The Monkey Suit And Other Short Fiction on African Americans ...

The Monkey Suit
And Other Short Fiction on African Americans and Justice

by Professor David Dante Troutt


In 10 powerful short stories, Troutt traces both the brutal history of the African slave and the African American struggle for civil rights. While following the tradition of "legal storytelling" practiced by Derrick Bell (see p.952^-53) and Richard Delgado, Troutt's collection stretches the genre almost to pure fiction. The work is shaped by law, to be sure, but the characterizations and compelling narrative style move the material away from legal formalities and to the lofty humanism of fine fiction.

The skill with which Troutt, a writer disguised as a law professor, renders horrific experiences will remind some readers of Richard Wright's work. In occupying the interior worlds of the victims, Troutt makes their brutal circumstances poignant, and they themselves become more human as their tormentors become more monstrous. Mercifully, in the last story, "Monkey Suit," the mother firmly reminds her son (and the traumatized reader) that times have changed, that "this ain't then." For people familiar with the law, four of the stories reflect Supreme Court cases: the Scottsboro travesty in "For Love of Trains"; warrantless searches in "Bitch, Son of a Bitch"; segregation ordinances in "The Bargain"; and the constitutionality of a Reconstruction-era statute in "Never Was." None of the 10 stories mentions the doctrines they represent; most of them posit a viewpoint on racial inequity that will not soon be forgotten by readers. Bonnie Smothers
Price: $14.95