Black Crow White Lie
Casperian Books; 159 pages
In the film noir classic "The Night of the Hunter," Robert Mitchum plays a preacher who tattoos the word "love" on one hand and "hate" on the other — a symbol, he explains, of the struggle between good and evil. The protagonist of "Black Crow White Lie," Candi Sary's new novel, faces this conflict in a deeper sense. Carson Calley, a preteen who moves with his alcoholic mother in and out of Hollywood motels, often responds to frustration with clenched fists; when others aren't watching, he pounds walls, vandalizes bikes, even smashes store windows. Hate, adolescent angst — it has the same effect.
But Carson's hands harbor a loving power as well: When he holds them over a wound and concentrates, he sees and feels a rush of energy through his body, and the ailment disappears. "Black Crow White Lie," which came out last year and recently won the Reader Views Literary Award for the West-Pacific region, is about which side of Carson's energy will triumph — whether he'll give into his nastier impulses (especially after a plot twist that causes him, and us, to doubt the power of his gifts) or whether, like the proverbial physician, he'll heal himself.