Price-Thompson, Tracy 1963–
Price-Thompson, Tracy 1963–
PERSONAL: Born 1963, in Brooklyn, NY; married Greg Thompson; children: six. Education: Attended Rutgers University; additional study in business administration in Bremerhaven, Germany; B.A., M.S.W.
CAREER: Writer. TnT Explosions, editorial team member. Military service: U.S. Army, 88N (transportation) and 21B (engineer corps), retired engineer officer; served in "Desert Storm."
AWARDS, HONORS: Ralph Bunche graduate fellow.
Black Coffee: A Novel, Villard/Strivers Row (New York, NY), 2002.
Chocolate Sangria, Strivers Row (New York, NY), 2003.
A Woman's Worth, One World (New York, NY), 2004.
Knockin' Boots, One World (New York, NY), 2005.
(Editor, with TaRessa Stovall) Proverbs for the People: Contemporary African-American Fiction (anthology), Dafina Books (New York, NY), 2003.
Contributor of short stories to anthologies, including Children of the Dream: Growing up Black in America, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1999; and Fortitude, Red Rock Press (New York, NY), 2000.
WORK IN PROGRESS: Upwardly Mobile Ghetto Funk, a collection of urban short stories; a screenplay based on Black Coffee.
SIDELIGHTS: Tracy Price-Thompson is a "Desert Storm" veteran and a retired U.S. Army engineer officer who has also established herself as an author. In an interview for Nubian Chronicles, she stated that she has always loved to read, and that reading fiction encouraged her to write. She felt she "had enough imagination and interesting life experiences to come up with an enthralling storyline." Commenting on her method for writing her first book, Black Coffee: A Novel, she recalled: "I shot from the hip and just exploded onto the pages." She also recalled, however, that while this method of writing was a creative approach, it led to many time-consuming rewrites. When starting her second novel, she began with an outline and character sketch, a foundation which, she said, made "the process far less painful."
Black Coffee is the story of Sandrella Coffee, a black, single mother of three, and a sergeant in the army who finds the path to advancement blocked by sexism. She meets Rombulus, a black drill sergeant who is unhappily married but does not want a divorce because of his twin sons. He meets Sandrella and falls in love with her. Rombulus and Sandrella begin an affair, even though the army has strict rules against extramarital relations. A Publishers Weekly reviewer commented that the author's "eyes-wide-open perspective on army life and love is refreshing."
Price-Thompson and TaRessa Stovall coedited the anthology Proverbs for the People: Contemporary African-American Fiction, which was praised as a "significant" addition to African-American literature by Library Journal reviewer Joy Dunkley. When soliciting the fifty-two contributions in the collection, the editors gave each writer a proverb of Biblical, African, or African-American origin and asked that it be used as the starting point for the story. Dunkley called the results "impressive."
In the same year Proverbs for the People was published, Price-Thompson published another novel, Chocolate Sangria. The story focuses on Juanita, a light-skinned African-American girl being raised by an elderly aunt and uncle in Brooklyn's tough projects. Juanita does not know what the truth is about her parents, and she struggles to be accepted by her peer group. Scooter is an effeminate boy from the South who, following his mother's murder of his father, is also being raised by elderly relatives in the projects. The two lonely teenagers form an alliance that helps them survive in their harsh world, but their lives are changed by an encounter with another pair of friends, Conan and Jorge. Conan is an industrious, honest man who becomes infatuated with Juanita; his friend Jorge is hardened and cruel, having suffered years of abuse by a childhood caretaker. Jealousy and prejudice boil up unexpectedly and destructively to affect all their lives. Commenting on the novel in Black Issues Book Review, Robin Green-Cary noted that the plot held "few surprises" but nevertheless recommended it "a tasty, satisfying elixir."
A Woman's Worth, Price-Thompson's next book, is a "raunchy, provocative novel," according to a Publishers Weekly writer. The issues here include female circumcision and cultural differences. Bishop Johnson, the main character, grew up in a violent, amoral environment. Born and raised in a brothel, he is orphaned when his parents are killed in a shootout. He is entrusted to an abusive uncle, but eventually finds a decent home with another family. Eventually Bishop joins the Peace Corps, where he meets Abeni, daughter of a tribal chief. As a child Abeni was subject to ritual sexual mutilation, an act which set her off on years of desperate, unhappy promiscuity. Eventually, she leaves this way of life behind to marry Bishop. When their own daughter is born, the prospect of the child undergoing the same rituals Abeni endured highlights their deep cultural differences. The relationship between Abeni and Bishop faces many challenges. In describing them, the author's prose is uneven, but her deep feeling for her story make it "a charged page-turner," stated the reviewer.
Knockin' Boots is another sexually explicit novel, this time concerning two brothers scarred by their upbringing in a foster home. Since leaving that place, Kevin and Emile have both entered the military and become superficially successful, yet they each struggle with inner demons. Emile loathes his own blackness and will not consider dating a black woman. Kevin has what appears to be a happy marriage, but he degrades his wife Fancy by forcing her to participate as he brings his increasingly strange and destructive fantasies to life. Kevin is willing to do anything to keep his obsessive activities hidden, but his compulsions finally bring him to a club where he is drugged and sexually assaulted by a man with the HIV virus. As everyone's deep secrets come to life, the characters must confront momentous life changes. The story is "a good inside peek at sexuality in the military," remarked Lillian Lewis in Booklist. A Kirkus Reviews writer stated that "the author explores some provocative issues" in language that is "frisky and erotically honest."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Black Issues Book Review, July, 2001, Pat Houser, "Pay-per-Novel Cyberspace Presses," p. 58; March-April, 2003, Robin Green-Cary, review of Chocolate Sangria, p. 44; September-October, 2003, Donia Elizabeth Allen, review of Proverbs for the People: Contemporary African-American Fiction, p. 62.
Booklist, February 15, 2004, Lillian Lewis, review of A Woman's Worth, p. 1033; September 1, 2005, Lillian Lewis, review of Knockin' Boots, p. 66.
Ebony, March, 2004, review of Proverbs for the People, p. 28.
Kirkus Reviews, September 1, 2005, review of Knockin' Boots, p. 939.
Library Journal, August, 2003, Joy Dunkley, review of Proverbs for the People, p. 138.
Publishers Weekly, November 19, 2001, review of Black Coffee, p. 49; January 20, 2003, review of Chocolate Sangria, p. 55; March 8, 2004, review of A Woman's Worth, p. 50.
Boston Globe Online, http://www.boston.com/ (March 1, 2002), Leila Fadel, "Black Coffee Could Be Fresher."
Tracy Price-Thompson Home Page, http://www.tracypricethompson.com (April 10, 2006).
Nubian Chronicles, http://www.nubianchronicles.com/ (March 1, 2002), "Interview with a Writer."