From immigration in the Trump era, to the War on Drugs, to the Depression and industrialization, with a hint of Morocco thrown in at the end, One-Eyed Man paints American masterpieces with pithy prose.
A Harvard grad turned banker then writer, the author, Geoffrey Craig, takes on several voices nothing like his own. The stories in Part I feature ambitious Mexican immigrants in the Hudson River Valley, an old lady activist their staunchest supporter. Part II tells the tale of Brandon Forsythe, who commits his only felonies (drug dealing and related crimes) after serving his prison sentence. He turns his trade into a successful, and honorable, business. Part III takes place around the small town of Carmichael outside New York city, from which some characters escape and to which others retreat. Part IV builds on the lynching of a black soldier returning from war. The final story follows two independent female friends bonding in adversity during travel. Craig reveals a common humanity writing as an “other” unlike his characters.
Notions of justice, home, forgiveness get turned on their heads as thoughtful characters grapple with these themes. Once mayor of a Hudson River Valley town, a Mexican immigrant loses popularity fighting to give other immigrants the chance no one gave him. A black drug dealer is more at home around rich white folks than his hooker sister – until she proves herself above her line of work. Can a black farmer forgive a hospital for failing to treat his snake-bit son because of his skin color? These stories ask more questions than they answer. The entertainment is in the probing unexpected twists and turns.
Although all but one of the stories is set in America, the perspectives of each is as exotic and eye-opening as a foreign country. The characters offer hope in their capacity to change their minds. A winning combination of condensed writing and big impact.