In his provocatively titled THE KING OF COLORED TOWN, longtime Austinite DARRYL WIMBERLEY offers an impassioned and eloquent piece of storytelling set in the last days of the Jim Crow South. The tone is somber from the outset: Cilla Handsom, a black musician summoned away from her command performance at the Clinton White House, reminisces in a Florida mortuary as she prepares the funeral of Joe Billy King, her first love. Cilla narrates us back through the grinding poverty of her childhood and the awkward, fumbling romance that blossomed between the two along the dirt streets of Laureate, Florida. But the turbulent sixties rain tragedy on them; after a church bombing, a gruesome assault, and a shooting shake their world, Cilla escapes to find a music career, while Joe Billy ends up in prison. Wimberley has passed this way before; racial tensions course through the heart of his previous novel, the sadly underrated A Tinker’s Damn. With The King of Colored Town, he revisits that inconvenient era in America’s history when integration was the ideal but segregation was the rule.
From the April 2007 Issue Subscribe