New Novel Explodes The Lid Off All Those Striking Dockworkers In Houston

A dockworker's strike in Houston? When was the last time we had a dockworker's strike in Houston?

We're not sure, but such an event plays a key role in a new novel that got a big-time review in The New York Times yesterday.

Black Water Rising, by an author named Attica Locke, concerns a black man who is an old flame of a blonde woman who is, in the 1981 timeframe of the book, mayor of Houston.

The mayor, according to the Times, "has a stiff blond head of helmet hair, an important office and a politician's survival skills." Kathy Whitmire, we hardly knew ye!! (Of course, in real life Whitmire ended up marrying a registered sex offender.)

Reviewer Janet Maslin says the book is "atmospheric [and] richly convoluting."

Maslin says of Cynthia the mayor and Jay the black guy:

The year is 1981. Eleven years earlier, as a student at the University of Houston, Jay wore a dashiki, a goatee and a militant air. Cynthia, Jay remembers, was a noisily outspoken member of Students for a Democratic Society, a white girl drawn to black radicals "as sure as if the Temptations had come to town."

Now Cynthia has a stiff blond head of helmet hair, an important office and a politician's survival skills. Jay has a struggling law practice and a deep, gnawing sense of self-doubt. If he often feels as if others might betray him, he can thank Cynthia for some of that; she fell right out of love with him when he faced trumped-up charges of conspiring to incite violence. She vanished when he stood trial.
There's a rescue from drowning in a bayou; there are scenes set, as the Times says, in "places like the huge country-and-western club Gilley's, known for its starring role in the film Urban Cowboy."

And there's the dockworkers strike, which will "lead to Chinatown-style conspiratorial rumblings, with oil supplanting water as the natural resource worth killing for."

The author's website says she's a Houston native who's now a screenwriter in LA. Getting a review in the Times is a nice boost.

And who knows, maybe one of these days Houston will have a dramatic dockworkers' strike.

Update: A morning check of Slampo's Place reveals that Attica Locke is the daughter of mayoral candidate Gene Locke, which we did not know when we wrote this yesterday.

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Richard Connelly
Contact: Richard Connelly