Pale Wire (Popscene)

Friday, January 14, 2005

Dream On


I finished Charles Johnson's Dreamer this afternoon. I didn't even consider it when I plucked her off the shelf last night, but it was an appropriate choice considering Martin Luther King Jr. Day is Monday.

Its the story of two physical similar men who differ as much spiritually as Abel and Cain, Ghandi and Nietzsche. They are Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his fictional doppleganger Chaym Smith.

While its heavy allegory doesn't allow for much narrative detail or stylistic nuance (which you can find in Johnson's superb novel Middle Passage) and it's brief length doesn't allow for much development, Dreamer makes its points clearly and manages to tell a familar story in a new way. It enriches by lending fresh insight into King's thought and, through skillful contrast, shows how his personality and teachings fit into the larger picture.