Faith Cross, a beautiful and purely innocent young black woman, is told by her dying mother to go and get herself "a good thing." Thus begins an extraordinary pilgrim's progress that takes Faith from the magic and mysticism of the rural South to the promises and perils of modern-day Chicago. It is an odyssey that propels Faith from the degradation of prostitution, drugs, and drink into a faceless middle-class reality, and finally into a searing tragedy that ironically leads to the discovery of the real Good Thing. National Book Award-winner Charles Johnson's first novel, originally published in 1974, puts the life-affirming soul of the African-American experience at the summit of American storytelling.
There are no customer reviews available at this time. Would you like to write a review?
January 10, 2001
Number of Print Pages*
Adobe DRM EPUB
* Number of eBook pages may differ. Click here for more information.
Excerpt from Faith and the Good Thing by Charles Johnson
It is time to tell you of Faith and the Good Thing. People tell her tale in many ways -- conjure men and old gimped grandmothers whisper it to make you smile -- but always Faith Cross is a beauty, a brown-sugared soul sister seeking the Good Thing in the dark days when the Good Thing was lost or, if the bog-dwelling Swamp Woman did not lie, was hidden by the gods to torment mankind for sins long forgotten.
The Devil was beating his wife on the day Faith's mother, Lavidia, died her second death. The first, an hour-long beating of bedsheets pierced by grating breaths, had been the day before, but a country doctor, Leon Lynch, came to the farmhouse where they lived and massaged Lavidia's heart. She returned from wherever it was she had been, both her legs pumping beneath the covers, her white eyes wide with terror. Lavidia raced like that the entire night, into the next day, and would have broken all long-distance records if she'd not been flat on her back. Finally she rested, counting her breaths. Faith, eighteen years old that day, stood at the window of her mother's bedroom, staring at a red sun as flat and still against the sky as moonlight on pond water. Light at first, like the sprinkle of baptism, yet steadily building, the dissolution of the clouds drenched the twenty acres of land left to Lavidia by her husband. Todd Cross had died in an odd way, so odd no one had spoken of him in Hatten County, Georgia, for twelve years. And now Faith's mother breathed her last.
Lifting the hem of her dress, Faith dried her eyes and turned from the window. She walked barefoot along the uneven wooden floorboards, circled an openmouthed stove in the center of the room, and sat beside her mother's bed on an old fiddleback chair. Judging from the photographs on her dresser, Lavidia Cross, during the Great Depression, had been a handsome woman. She once had worn back her long brown hair, her skin sparkled from homemade lard, and her limbs were strong and sturdy. But at fifty-five, her figure was gray, both her arms spindly, and her swollen legs, drawn beneath the covers and quilts close to her breasts, were as soft as those of a toad. On the wall above her head swung a dull cross beside a calendar no one had changed for months. To Faith's right were Lavidia's wig stand, her lamps made from vinegar bottles, and a heavy maple-framed mirror, her mother's favorite heirloom. But Lavidia herself was slipping slowly out of time. Cockroaches lost their balance on the damp wall and fell along her face. These Faith quickly removed. Only light from the parted drapery of the room's single window lit the room. Water dripped from a ceiling sagging at its center. And the walls shuddered with each crash of thunder, the time between thunder rolls freighted with waiting. With mourning. Faith placed her fingers under the heavy covers to touch her mother's hand. It was cold.