Review: A Bird In Her Hair by Philip Bonofsky Print

A Bird in Her Hair(Left Curve June 1, 1987)

Not enough authors who write stories about working class people get it right. Typically they either overstuff the work with political rhetoric or they sketch workers' desires in some mock-simplistic style that really misses the point. The more authentic fiction about workers I think lies in the psychological depth the author brings to the subject: it isn't easy to shape the guilt, the stubbornness, the conceit, the competitiveness of workers; to tell a heroic generational tale about the burden of promise in America (once central to most immigrant novels), to recount the toil upward and outward toward "freedom," only to find some new harness which binds you in--all these tellings are difficult because of their psychological scope. One writer today who creates some of this texture within her characters is novelist Valerie Miner, focusing as she does on ''cross-class and cross-cultural movement" quite successfully. Another, more Old World proletarian, a lot like the embittered ex-preacher-boy narrator in John Sayles' magnificent film Matewan, is Phillip Bonosky.

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