CHANGO'S BEADS AND TWO-TONED SHOES (2011)
The eminent writer Joyce Carol Oates wrote: “With the zest and imaginative energy that has characterized William Kennedy’s remarkable works of fiction from the very start of his career, the ambitious Changó’s Beads and Two-Tone Shoes takes the reader on a wild ride from Albany, New York to Cuba in the time of Revolution, and from Cuba to Albany in the time of the assassination of Robert Kennedy. It’s a passionate love story and an epic journey in miniature, a whirligig of 20th-century history dramatized in the life of the Albany journalist Daniel Quinn whose life-span so eloquently parallels that of his creator Bill Kennedy.”
“This is not a book a young man would or could write. There is the sense here of somebody who has seen and considered much, without letting his inner fire cool.”
— John Sayles
Susan Salter-Reynolds wrote in The Daily Beast, “This great crescendo of a novel is worth the ten-year wait. Kennedy has woven all his visions, all his orphans and widows, all his demons, all his politics, lust and bloodlust, fears and hopes for America and mankind, hero worship, father figures, disappointments and action figures into it … The power of Kennedy’s prose lies in his contrapuntal rhythm—dizzying dialogue followed by understatement so lean it feels like sarcasm, followed by speed, exaggeration, magic, Santeria. He writes a wild death-dance to which every mythical figure is invited—they parade across the pages. The fast and slow creates a tension, points of heat in the novel (love, sorrow, torture) and valleys full of cold air (politics, growing old in Albany, the impossible elusiveness of the ‘normal’ American life) … "
“Novelist of Albany, voice of the American poor, voice of the reckless and regretful, a writer who has lived through those hopeless decades and come out dancing to the human drumbeat, not happy, not even certain, but with his ear to the ground. What does he hear? ‘The glass-jawed, the fallen away, the ignorant, the passive, the skeptics, the cocksure-never-sure … the color-coded, the suicidal rebels and the enraged have-nots, the martyrs and the clerics brainwashed by the mystery, the saints like King who always lose so grandly.’”
Author and filmmaker John Sayles paid homage to the craft of William Kennedy in his New York Times Book Review of Changó’s Beads and Two-Tone Shoes: “This is not a book a young man would or could write. There is the sense here of somebody who has seen and considered much, without letting his inner fire cool.”
Chango's Beads and Two-toned Shoes
was published in England.