Cover image for Playing the bones : a novel
Playing the bones : a novel
Redd, Louise.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
Boston : Little, Brown, [1996]

Physical Description:
262 pages ; 22 cm
Format :


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Reviews 3

Booklist Review

In her gutsy first novel, Redd offers both a heroine, Lacy Springs, and a plot as big and crazy as her home state of Texas. In full command of her silky yet spicy prose, she wrestles all kinds of Texases onto these burning pages: the snooty racism of Houston, Dallas' infamous grassy knoll, redneck barbecue joints, and the long Texas night of the wailing blues guitar. Add Elvis and a kooky, turban-wearing therapist and you get a sense of Redd's universe. Then there's Lacy herself, tall, sexy, and so full of pain she can't think straight. She's an unusually compassionate eighth-grade teacher who is engaged to a sweetly literary man and involved in a blatantly lascivious affair with an arrogant blues musician calling himself Black Jesus. As Lacy tries to sort out her conflicting desires, she confronts the horrifying facts of her childhood: her mother's sick cruelty, years of sexual abuse, her sister's betrayal, and the death of the only person who cared for her. Redd goes out on a lot of limbs here, but her down-home sense of humor, frank eroticism, and bold honesty keep her, and her readers, buoyant. --Donna Seaman

Publisher's Weekly Review

Equal parts recovery manual, travelogue and tall tale, Redd's first novel sings a bluesy ballad about Lacy Springs, an attractive young Texas schoolteacher wrestling with her dark and disturbing past. Raised in Dallas by her wealthy, abusive mother, Lacy, who teaches high-school English, lives in Houston with Ellis, her long-suffering fiancé. Ellis may be tender and understanding, but that's not enough to stop Lacy from sneaking out for wild assignations with blues musician Black Jesus, her volatile, sensual lover. Even "my PhD in Comparative Literature does not prevent my heart from freezing up, and then thawing when I hear this man's foolish talk," she confesses. The story line traces Lacy's struggles to confront her demons. She's aided in this quest by a cut-rate New Age therapist, Eva, a loopy grad student in a Velcro-fastened turban, but when Lacy can't face Eva's questions, she scribbles lyrics on a legal pad, recasting into comfortably abstracted songs the themes that trouble her. Like the turbulent lives of the blues musicians she admires, Lacy's own existence grows increasingly dramatic as she juggles the promise of a stable domestic routine with Ellis and her exciting, sometimes violent, time on the road with Black Jesus. As the action shifts through the South, from Houston to Graceland, Redd provides evocative descriptions of a world where restaurants serve "salsa so hot it drives the confusion right out of your head." The plot takes some broad, almost farcical, twists that leaven the solemnity of Lacy's revelations but also come close to trivializing them. On the whole, though, this is an engaging and affecting examination of one woman's determined search for self-affirmation. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

In this humorous yet sentimental first novel, Lacey Springs, a highly educated, upper-middle-class schoolteacher, is trying to pull her life together before her wedding in six weeks. As she deals with the frustrations of teaching and her aggravation with planning the wedding, she enjoys infidelity with a local blues singer named Black Jesus. Meanwhile, Lacey writes blues songs to escape her past and seeks counseling through an unlicensed bisexual therapist who obsesses over animal rights while trying to get Lacey to confront her sexual abuse at the hands of a fanatically religious mother and a male baby-sitter during her youth. This is a clever novel on the joys and sorrows of life. The writing is witty, and the characters are lively, realistic, and fun. A quick read; recommended for popular collections.‘Shenise Ross, New York (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.