brooklyn-based author colin Channer has big ideas. He wants to talk about religion, identity, the creative process and the power of love. But his slight narrative in Satisfy My Soul gives him too little room to satisfy his ambitions.His protagonist, black playwright Carey McCullough, is a lost soul who has trouble with women and woes with his art. While in Jamaica, he meets Frances, who fucks like a goddess and challenges almost every one of his values. They do share a recurring dream, though, which Carey is sure makes her a kindred spirit.
But she has a past -- and worse, it's with his best friend and soulmate, Kwabena. This he learns while he's visiting Kwabena in the small South Carolina town where his friend teaches and writes. The discovery throws him off-balance and onto a destructive path.
Everything happens way too fast in this novel. Carey meets Frances, starts the affair and goes to South Carolina. Then, suddenly, the narrative explodes, and Channer raises the stakes to a point that strains credulity.
Still, his voice is sexy and poetic, and he's wrestling with things that matter. Carey's argument with the Christian Kwabena over the virtues of embracing a white god has great tension, and the pointed observations onthe way Carey uses up women show an unusual sensitivity. The section on Carey's experience living with a Village Voice writer whose columns disclose every detail of their personal life, though not totally relevant, rocks.
Channer's spiritual interests, his yearnings for Africa and his sexual frankness place him in a unique position among American writers. He reads Friday (February 8) as part of the Harbourfront Reading Series. See Book Readings.
Satisfy my soul by Colin Channer (Ballantine), 243 pages, $29.95 cloth. Rating: NNN