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Bourgeois Blues: An American Memoir.

Jake Lamar's slip of a book, Bourgeois Blues: An American Memoir, is a bit of a puzzle. The jacket copy boasts that Lamar "evokes the ironies of integration and the struggles of the black middle class to succeed in white America," and you fear you're in for a lamentation on the once highly prized Buppie track.

But then, the author's introductory note adds a dash of intrigue: "This book is neither fiction nor journalism, but a work of the memory; and while subject to memory's vagaries, it is faithful to the stories I remember."

But the sinking feeling returns when Lamar fills us in on his background, humbly acknowledging his advantages: "a middle-class upbringing, a private school education, a Harvard degree, a job writing on national affairs at Time magazine." Interest wanes anew when he recounts a friend's take on his "problem": "You're too white for black people and too black for white people." Lamar's response: "Was I some sort of freak?"

Lamar is just one of the thousand of "children of the dream" who were misinformed or self-deluded about the Civil Rights Movement. The reality is that some of the 1960s ideals were, well, just that--ideals. But keep reading. Lamar, 30, doesn't take himself and his bourgeois blues that seriously.

In fact, much of his book is a meditation on his love-hate relationship with his father. But since Lamar doesn't bash his father, the inner tale works. In the end, the book is still a puzzle. But you will look forward to more prose from Jake Lamar.

Tonya Boland Bourgeois Blues: An American Memoir by Jake Lamar, Summit Books, New York, 1991, $19
COPYRIGHT 1992 Earl G. Graves Publishing Co., Inc.
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Copyright 1992, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Author:Boland, Tonya
Publication:Black Enterprise
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Apr 1, 1992
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