BOOK STEW REVIEW: ‘My Monticello’ by Jocelyn Nicole Johnson

Below is the latest Book Stew Review from Eileen MacDougall, host of the long-running Book Stew, a video and podcast devoted to writing in all forms, authors, playwrights, and even a cat who survived a tornado and wrote a book about it.

My Monticello by Jocelyn Nicole Johnson

If you are concerned about the impact of “critical race theory,” check out these “critical race stories.” This collection of stunning, shocking portrayals of mini and maxi aggressions against Black people is remarkable in tis soaring imaginings.

In the first one (included in America’s Best Short Stories of 2018), The Control Negro, a Black professor, is the distant observer of the treatment of his own unclaimed son, until he becomes an active participant in the child’s oppression.

The masterpiece is the title story, a shocking recounting of a dystopian takeover of Charlottesville, VA by violent white supremacists, when American society and the electrical grid have collapsed, and each individual community must resist or surrender to the conquerors.

A group of neighbors flee to Jefferson’s home museum, led by Da’Naisha Hemmings Love, a college student and a direct descendent of Sally Hemmings and Thomas Jefferson. They become a utopian family and a collective, but the threat of an attack remains constant amid the irony of living in Monticello, in the Big House, cultivating its historic gardens and outfitting themselves in t-shirts from the gift shop.

The menace is overwhelming, the reader can see what’s coming and years to protect the small band of gallant survivors.

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