Another in the series that I finished six weeks ago and another on Bowie’s Top 100. It’s the first where I didn’t say, “Oh, I get why he included it.” Passing came on the scene in 1929. Commentary and reviews describe it as classic. In 2016, I call it dated and predictable. While Nella Larsen’s fiction may have been edgy ninety years ago, the only surprise is that it found its way across the Pond sometime in the 1960s or 1970s (I’m guessing).
Briefly, Irene Redfield tells the story of her friend Clare Kendry. They grew up together, and their worlds collide as Irene is living a comfortable, wifely existence grounded in the aspiring black middle class. A not believable chance encounter launches Clare back into Irene’s life. Actually Irene is launched back into Clare’s orbit. Disaster, of course, ensues.
Once I’d finished I decided Bowie liked Passing because Clare Kendry is not was she seems, and neither was he.
I won’t read more of Larsen’s works. Perhaps the more compelling story is the author’s own. She was the American daughter of a Danish mother and West Indian father. The white folks rejected her; her writing career dissolved; she died alone. Now that’s a story.