Soul City
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Buy *Soul City* online


Little, Brown
192 pages
September 2004
rated 3 1/2 of 5 possible stars

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In Soul City, partying is political - that is, any partying for the upcoming mayoral race is an excuse for uninhibited elebration. Cadillac Jackson comes to the city expressly to cover the debates, but deep in his heart he dreams of writing the definitive book on Soul City, the mecca of soul, where everything of color is embraced and glorified. The problem is, he can’t seem to find the appropriate words to capture the spirit of Soul City, a phenomenon impossible to confine within the covers of a mere book.

Emperor Jones, mayor for the last twelve years, is preparing to step down, and this requires considerable ceremony, applause and, of course, partying. The newly-elected mayor will then determine the type of music played in Soul City. It is critical that the people choose wisely between candidates, from the Jazz Party's Coltrane Jones to the Hip Hop Nation's Willie Bobo and Soul Music Party's Cool Spreadlove.

Eavesdropping in The Biscuit Shop the next day, Cadillac steps up to make a date with the shop's DJ, Mahogany Sunflower, a fine woman in Jimmy Choo's who hates interviews but never turns one down. With Mahogany’s help, Cadillac tours Soul City and all its venues but is still unable to write a word to explain all that he has seen in the magical place. Armed with a set of impressions, he is without a sense of direction. If Soul City had been the perfect environment, a utopia, words would flow. Unfortunately, like life, there are two sides to Soul City, the beautiful and the ugly. Without a balance, Cadillac is bereft, wordless in a place that cries out for vivid description, the essence of Blackness in all its permutations, not just a parody of the culture.

Chapter by chapter, Touré renders a series of fables that magnify a way of life embracing joy, rhythm, belief in God, passion, a painful history, sexuality, social commentary and cutting edge style that others seek to emulate, but never capture.

All this is background to the election and the term of the newly elected mayor, whose reign will affect the direction of the whole city.

In Toure's metaphorical Soul City, the esence is in the people, who may drift from one party to another, one wild foray into danger after another, exercising all the vagaries of the human heart. But, regardless of how they are exploited, tempted or seduced, the bottom line is a moral code based on love and respect for tradition and family.

This grownup fairy tale, though full of humor, is built on solid ground, as Touré joyfully embraces the culture that makes his life so rich and full. No pale imitation of reality, Soul City is a blast of fresh air, an invitation inside a world that experiences everything, pain, sadness and joy, but chooses the brightest colors, the hippest music and the loudest shout of "Amen".

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at © Luan Gaines, 2004

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