Beacon Press: Blue As The Lake
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Blue As The Lake

A Personal Geography

Author: Robert B. Stepto

Blue as the Lake maps out an African-American landscape unique in American literature. From Idlewild, the black resort on Lake Michigan where he vacationed as a child with his grandparents, to Oak Bluffs on Martha’s Vineyard, Robert Stepto traces a history of generations finding and making a home. His family lore careens through American history- we meet a black regiment in World War I; legendary jazz musician Coleman Hawkins, and Inabel Burns, pioneering feminist and great-granddaughter of slaves.

Beautifully and intimately rendered, Stepto’s memoir is a stunning meditation on what it means to be American.
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“A lyrical new book on African-American communities.” —CondË Nast Traveler

“Through loosely linked, informal essays Stepto . . . traces his own past through his family’s history and migrations. . . These evocative meditations on home and the family are thoughtful and moving.” —Publisher’s Weekly

“[A] graceful family memoir. . . . [Stepto] wonderfully evokes the delights and confusions of childhood.” —Laura Green, The New York Times Book Review

“A book . . . [where] eloquence is the essential ingredient. A major waterway for our national journey.” —Michael S. Harper, author of Songlines: Mosaics; Dear John, Dear Coltrane; and Images of Kin

Blue as the Lake is a lyrical memoir rendered with precision, grace, and intimacy. Stepto takes us on a ‘blues-ride’ through places . . . which are locations in his personal geography but also special places in the collective memory and history of African Americans.” —Mary Helen Washington, editor of Black-Eyed Susans/Midnight Birds

“Stepto, an English and Afro-American Studies professor at Yale, vividly portrays the sights and sounds of a black resort in the 1940s and 1950s and the racially changing Chicago neighborhoods of his youth. In his lyrically written memoir, he recalls summers at Idlewild, a resort in Michigan, where black families determinedly built enclaves for themselves, a place to bring their families and not face the ever-present threat of racial prejudice and discrimination, even in the North. He traces the racial changes in Chicago’s neighborhoods as his family migrated from working class to upper middle class, changing geography as they progressed. His intertwining stories of his ancestors offer similar portraits of changing geography (through Virginia to Missouri to Chicago to Connecticut) and social statuses (attaining degrees and progressing, along with the race, to new jobs and opportunities). And Stepto manages to recall not just his family’s development but also that of African Americans generally in their journey through the same time period—postslavery to the present.” —Booklist


Blue As The Lake

ISBN: 978-080700945-1
Publication Date: 9/15/1999
Pages: 224
Size: x Inches (US)
Price:  $14.00
Format: Paperback
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