Cotton by Christopher Wilson

Now THIS is an identify-crisis book!  This is about a boy who is born white to a black mother in 1950’s Mississippi.  And he hears the thoughts of those around him, both dead and alive.  When he’s a teen, he’s beaten so badly that he ends up in a hospital in another state, with amnesia.  So he becomes a white teenager with a new identity.  As a young man, a horrible mishap with a beer bottle and car accident results in surgery causing him to become a white woman.  Annnnd a skin condition some years later results in him becoming a black woman.  And when you think that’s gotta be the end of it, he begins sprouting feathers from the middle of his back.

I loved the tone of the book until about 2/3 of the way through.  Then it was as if the author was rushed and wanted to wrap up the bizarreness as fast as he could get through it.  The characterization wasn’t as complete, the voices all but went away, and the events started being sort of cartoony.  It was evident that the main character was supposed to be a half-wit, but there wasn’t a lot of support for that in the narrative.

It’s worth a read, especially if you don’t mind skimming the last third a bit.


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