Cover image for Po man's child : a novel
Po man's child : a novel
Blackman, Marci, 1963-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
San Francisco : Manic D Press, [1999]

Physical Description:
234 pages ; 23 cm
Format :


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Told through the eyes of a twenty-seven year old African-American masochistic lesbian named Po, this compelling narrative follows a poetic trail of revelation, sexual perversion, religious fanaticism and the supernatural, to a redeeming conclusion of inner peace. After sustaining a serious injury which occurs during an S/M scene with her lover, and receiving a call from her brother informing her of her father's death, Po checks herself into a psychiatric ward. While in hospital, Po relives some of her life's most vivid events - with dramatic results.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

The faint of heart and delicate of stomach and sensibilities may shy away from Blackman's first novel, for it opens with a detailed, gory description of ritualistic injury made lubricious in the context of lesbian S&M. Lavishly, lushly eroticizing abuse to illustrate the protagonist Po's tactic for warding off encompassing numbness, Blackman's writing may turn some people off precisely because it is so finely honed, and others because it reeks of danger and comes close in its appeal to that of the infamous so-called snuff films, in which sexual abuse is carried to the extremity of murder for the delectation of those who get turned on by such things. Blackman renders her theme--the tragedy of the American family--in extreme terms, as if smashing her fist in one's face, and readers simply cannot avoid its impact. She may find her book becoming the center of spirited debate, not about its literary merit but about its audacious pushing of more than one politically correct-incorrect envelope. --Whitney Scott

Publisher's Weekly Review

A vivid assortment of characters inhabit Blackman's first novel, a haunting, dark and visceral story of family entanglements, failure and survival. When she was young, Po Childs numbed herself emotionally to such a degree that she could only feel when she sank the blade of a knife into her skin. Now 27, she is still grappling with the knife. When S&M play with her lover, Mary, goes awry, Po checks herself into a mental hospital for 72 hours of "observation and rest." Here she recollects her family history. Her father, Gregory Childs, a once aspiring jazz musician, wins his store, the Party Shack, on a poker hand, only to quietly gamble his business away. Her mother, Lillian, regretfully gives up her dreams of college and career to raise Po, sister Onya, and brother Bobby. When Gregory has an affair with his brother's (white) wife, Jessica, everyone becomes unhinged. Ray, the cuckolded husband, repeatedly and unsuccessfully attempts suicide, and Lillian succumbs first to alcohol, then prescription drugs. Onya has a nervous breakdown, while Bobby escapes first into the arms of his imaginary playmates, then into the abyss of heroin addiction, and finally into the family of the Ministers of Allah. Bobby visits Po at the hospital, with resisting Onya in tow, determined to convince Po to attend their father's funeral. Although the plot is unnecessarily convoluted, Blackman's tale of a family's bleak and twisted history strikingly illustrates the way even a wounded heart will expand to accommodate the many kinds of love (both nurturing and frightening) it craves. Author tour. (June) FYI: Blackman edited Manic D's anthology Beyond Definition: New Writing from Gay and Lesbian San Francisco, an ALA Gay and Lesbian Book Award Finalist. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved