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Uncle Otto Paperback – August 22, 2007
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About the Author
Born and raised in St.Louis, Missouri, Winfred Cook has worked as ahairdresser most of his life. He now resides inOakland, California.
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in America. The reader has a chance to experience what it was like for a African-American family, who were poor and living in the rural south.
An opportunity opens up for them for them to move to the north
and experience 'big city' life. With clarity and ease, the author
weaves a story of a family's survival during those times.
It was informative and entertaining.
Nancy L. Howe
Cook offers readers a complex saga detailing a generation's worth of stories about an African-American
family who hopes to better their situation by moving from the rural South to a northern city.
David Green knew as soon as he arrived that he didn't want to live in the Bottom forever. Little more than
an Arkansas shantytown set up for the black servants of rich whites, it didn't offer him much more than a place to get in trouble. For his wife, Mary, however, it was the only home she'd ever known, and she was even more reluctant to leave after she gave birth to her first child, a boy named Otto. Through a curious turn of fate, the family ends up in St. Louis, where David can finally pursue his dreams. As Otto grows, he becomes a wild child, getting involved in gangs and illegal moonshine trade. Eventually, he gets in over his head and comes home, only to be poisoned by a crazy lover and end up paralyzed, living out his days in his parents' home. Though his story combines real historical
events from Cook's family history with fiction, it reads like a memoir. This adds a personal touch but can be confusing for the reader, as the style is generally associated with accounts of true events. The author's capable plotting and writing make up for much of the confusion, though the realization that the book is fictional might still bring surprise. Regardless, the novel is an important account of one family's story. While the events may not all be true in fact, they are true to life, and represent a period of time and a perspective that is underrepresented in literature. That alone makes it worth a second look.
A semifictional account that presents historical truths.
Reading this book was like being transported back to the turn of the last century and living up through the 60s in a time of great change in American history. I could smell the smoke and feel the heat of the gin joints and speakeasys. The feelings of frustration, hope, and love were just as real as if I was experiencing it myself. I felt so much connection with all the characters of the book and will miss them now that the book is done.
While it is historical fiction, it is well done historical fiction with great levels of detail and accuracy. Based partially on a true story, the telling is so seamless you are never sure which parts really happened and which did not.
Fair warning this book reflects a sometimes hard and brutal period of history and does not try to gloss that over. Expect the language to reflect that. But nothing is ever gratuitous or inappropriate to the story.
Why do I say an important book? Far too little historical fiction is written about the minority experiences of American life. And even less of it by African American writers. Winfred Cook deserves an award for writing so well and so poignantly. With truth, but not hate. It is this kind of book that will help us remember where we have come from, where we are going, and why.
Most recent customer reviews
I truly enjoyed the book. It was well written and held my attention. Otto was quite busy & kept you wondering what was he going to do next !