Cover image for Walking bones
Walking bones
Carter, Charlotte (Charlotte C.)
Publication Information:
London : Serpent's Tail, 2002.
Physical Description:
184 pages ; 20 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Adult Fiction African American

On Order



Walking Bones is an American love story cast in deepest noir. It's the story of a black woman named Nettie who came to New York to be a model but grew too big and ended up as a designer. One night in a bar, Nettie meets a man, a drunk white man named Albert Press. He insults her, she smashes a glass in his face. And so begins a strange, twisted kind of love affair. It becomes a lurching dance of black and white, sadist and masochist, that can only ever end in disaster. Like Chester Himes' The End of a Primitive, this is an American tragedy that unpicks the sexuality of racism and the strange contradictions of sexual power. The characters attempts to redefine and surmount considerations of race are to be seen as a kind of folly and a kind of beauty. Their attempts to negate those same considerations are made at their inescapble peril.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Carter, author of the rollicking Nanette Hayes mystery series, swims in very different waters with this erotic exploration of sexual obsession. Evoking Chester Himes' searing novel The Primitive (1955), the tale follows the relationship between two New Yorkers, former model Nettie, a statuesque black woman, and middle-aged, white publisher Albert. The two meet in a bar when Albert provokes Nettie with sexual and racial insults, and she responds by breaking a glass in his face. Albert later tracks Nettie down to apologize, and so begins an obsessive yet perversely tender relationship that is driven by racially fueled erotic need on both sides. Adding extra frisson to the sexual and racial dynamics is Nettie's friend and mentor, the nightlife-loving Rufe, a gay black man who is a kind of cross between Truman Capote and Anatole Broyard. We know, of course, that this relationship must end badly, but we are no more able to abandon reading about it than Nettie and Albert are able to abandon each other. Carter unflinchingly confronts the ugliness of sexual obsession, but she manages to generate remarkable sympathy for her characters. --Bill Ott

Publisher's Weekly Review

A violent bar incident leads to a "deep, corrosive" affection in Charlotte Carter's evocative, syntactically inventive urban noir of sexual adventure and dysfunction. The author of the Nanette Hayes jazz mysteries turns her attention to the darker side of life and love as she investigates how a black woman could come to love the troubled white man whose face she cut after he insulted her, how jealousy and misplaced concern can lead to murder and how allocating guilt can be harder than expected in the haunting Walking Bones. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved