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I Say a Little Prayer.

I Say a Little Prayer by E. Lynn Harris Doubleday, May 2006 $21.95, ISBN 0-385-51272-4

This author's typical layering of romance, taboo sexuality and (relatively) conservative Christian beliefs has been a financially successful formula for more than a decade. His latest effort, I Say a Little Prayer, doesn't deviate much from this formula (there's more sex), nor does it break new ground. It is, indeed, what we have come to expect from Harris--fun, frivolous fluff.

Fluff isn't a bad thing because, face it, Harris gives good soap opera. So on with the show. Here's a sampling of the drama present in Prayer. Picture it: Atlanta, a large metropolitan city with even larger churches. Picture the protagonist: a six-foot-one, 193-pound "mink-skinned" (just quoting E. Lynn, folks, I have no idea what that means) bisexual with gay leanings, nearing forty. He's brokenhearted and lonely.

I Say a Little Prayer opens with Chauncey Dion Greer, our patently pretentious protagonist, who is about to out a would-be elected U.S. senator on Larry King Live. Chauncey agreed to do the interview on the condition of anonymity; he is to be filmed in silhouette, his voice distorted. However, the show's executive producer feels these explosive allegations will have more kick if Chauncey reveals his identity.

Close-up on face and freeze; cue in the soap opera music. Chauncey's dilemma: What will he do? Who is this politician and what does he have to do with Chauncey? Mystery revealed in 39 short chapters.

Having reviewed Harris's work on a number of occasions (a superfluous exercise), this writer knows that author doesn't surprise so much as wink or show a little shoulder. Occasionally, he annoys. Harris's writing style often thumps along like a tired hooker; what's supposed to be sexy and intriguing ends up formulaic and predictable. In I Say a Little Prayer, all of his conventions are displayed: characters with three names; confused, vain bisexuals; down-low charlatans; flouncing sissies; ghetto sisters and all-forgiving mamas. Kick back and enjoy--or not.

--Reviewed by Steven G. Fullwood Steve G. Fullwood is a writer in Harlem, New York.
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Author:Fullwood, Steven G.
Publication:Black Issues Book Review
Article Type:Book review
Date:Jul 1, 2006
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