Booker Something that Rhymes: The Johnson Family Saga Tannie Stovall Author
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BOOKER By Tannie STOVALL Summary The actions begins in 1988 with a trip from Saint Petersburg Russia to France by Kasia Klucznicki and her daughter, Halina in order to visit their aging relative Jeannot who lives in a château in the Tarn Valley. A short time after that, Booker Johnson, the son of black Americans parents born in France who detains both American and French citizenship, flees France for the United States in order to avoid French military service. Booker’s father Johnny, a sharecropper’s son, who became wealthy in France in the early 1960ies, is disappointed with his son’s action. Booker has an excellent French bourgeois education, which clashes with the working class background of his father. An appreciable part of the book is about the mending of relations between father and son. In California, when the Berlin wall was crumbling in 1989, Roy McPherson, a specialist in fabricating high performing computer chips feels that his country the United States will become increasingly arrogant in the future and decides to send industrial secrets to Russia via the internet. Booker quickly became disenchanted with the United States and moves to Mexico where he meets Halina. Halina’s father, Vicktor Klucznicki is working with the Russian litigation but in reality, he is a KGB agent who assignment is procuring industrial technology from the United States. Halina deliberately becomes pregnant by Booker and then elopes with him. When the CIA becomes aware that Klucznicki’s daughter is married to an American, they exploit this fact in order to discover his real activities. During a prolonged visit to Russia, Booker becomes a businessman in order to please his wife who accuses him of being a social parasite. Booker’s father Johnny visits them. Before and after the visit Johnny supplies the CIA with enough information so that a CIA agent, Martinez, can deduce Klucznicki’s activities which leads to the exposure of McPherson plus the dismantling of a Soviet spy ring in the United States. However, Johnny became very fond of the Klucznicki’s and them of him. Klucznicki’s relation with Booker causes him some troubles on his job with the KGB. Booker opens a cabaret similar to one that his father owns in Paris, which causes him to have difficulties with the Russian underworld. The Klucznicki’s were an important family in Galicia in the 19th century. All that is left of their grandeur is the château in the Tarn valley, which they want to preserve in spite of the large debts of its owner. Also, Halina is the last direct descendant of Marek Klucznicki, the most illustrious of their family and they would like for her children to carry the name Klucznicki. In the end, very surprising solutions are found which save the château for the family, gives the name Klucznicki to Halina’s children, save Booker from the Russian Mafia and save Klucznicki’s job with the KGB. McPherson ends up in jail. On one level, the book is about Johnny and his son. Johnny came to Paris on his honeymoon after serving honorably in the Korean’s war. He found life much more agreeable in Paris than in his hometown in Alabama so he decided to stay. He was a good soldier and a loyal American but after experiencing the difference in treatment between Paris and Alabama, he had a long during love-hate relation with the United States. The parts of the novel related by him are sometimes written in a crude language. The books contain a fair amount of technical information about ciphering and deciphering information. It also explains the unique character of the French Stock market during the period it covers. And there are realistic descriptions of the life of the principle character, African American Booker in Russia and in rural France. On another level, the interest of the book, is the interaction between Booker the Klucznicki family. Initially Halina’s family had a gut racial hatred for Booker as they have for Germans, Russians of none Polish descent and

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