"FAITHFUL SERVANTS" BY MARC CURTIS LITTLE

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Tuesday, May 7, 2019 Under: Book Reviews


Interlaced with a significant proportion of fact, “Faithful Servants” is a superbly written, enlightening and objective fictional account of one teenage boy’s resolution to integrate the ethnically divided population of New Jersey in the 1960s, against the backdrop of an explosive racial equality movement, which was described by some as “rioting” and others as “rebellion”.  In spite of many who want nothing more than to prolong the historical segregation of black and white communities, and amidst overt prejudice from both sides, Nehemiah Garvey - a talented teenager from a strong-valued, hardworking black family - and his highly respected Jewish basketball coach, attempt to build bridges between their respective communities, and in turn foundations of hope and equality for their beloved city’s future – through sport.

Evidently well educated in – and passionate about - his subject matters of civil rights, American politics and American national and local history, Marc Little writes fantastically well, which is not surprising, considering his impressive journalistic career.  The book is interesting, significant and absolutely informative, without being discursive or subjective, and I felt that I learnt a decent amount about all of those topics reading it.  When reading “Faithful Servants”, you are advised to read well: it absolutely requires – and certainly deserves – no less than your full attention.  There is a lot of information to take in – much of it factual, incorporated expertly into the story Little weaves – so much so, in fact, that it reads perhaps more like non-fiction reference or memoir.  As the character backstories develop, they do so alongside fascinating insight into the history of New Jersey, and indeed immigration generally, through the early 20th century.  At about the two-thirds point, the timeline abruptly jumps forward by many years, which left me feeling a tad wanting; much more heavily political, it feels different in contrast as well as era to the book’s first section.  However, it does so in complementary tandem, and as it starts to incorporate the backstory proper, I realized very soon that the timeline has been crafted just as it should be.

The proof and language in “Faithful Servants” is near-perfect.  However, I did feel there was a slight imbalance in the fiction element of the story, as the author’s journalistic inclination showed through: whilst well developed, the characters did not display any real degree of emotional expression, for me; virtually all of the character interaction is spoken, which reads a little unemotively, in an extremely dialogue-heavy narrative.  Whilst this is not a notable deficiency, due to Marc’s formidable attention to detail, it does make the proceedings a bit more of an effort to follow without full concentration.  I would have preferred a good deal more emotional description and adjective.  That said, the dialogue itself is wonderfully rich and captures the era and culture perfectly, whilst vividly sharing the competing moods of a very incendiary period. 

Marc is a fabulous author and a writer of undeniable pedigree, on the top tier of quality.  His book has been created well, and his writing admirably sourced and diligently researched; he pens copious amounts of detail, in respect of the political culture and the lives of his characters.  The scene setting which typically begins each chapter is very non-fiction oriented; additionally, there are fantastic quotes opening each of them, from notable figures in American history, both black and white.  But, as well as this, he is an articulate and entertaining fiction novelist; like butter from a knife, his eloquence and work ethic glide, seemingly effortlessly, across the page.

In : Book Reviews 


Tags: marc-curtis-little  drama  american-history  racial 
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