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  • American Cocktail: A Colored Girl in the World ed. by Anita Reynolds and Howard Miller, and George Hutchinson
American Cocktail: A Colored Girl in the World, by Anita Reynolds and Howard Miller, and George Hutchinson, editor. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2013, 352 pages.

Continuing in his exploration of the complex lives of women who straddle the color line (see In Search of Nella Larsen: A Biography of the Colorline), Hutchinson offers the twenty-first-century reader the memoir of Anita Reynolds. A minor figure during the Harlem Renaissance, Reynolds was nonetheless very well connected, with a memoir that reads like a Who’s Who of black luminaries such as W. E. B. Du Bois—her supposed first lover; Claude McKay—a travel companion; Langston Hughes—a cousin; Richard Wright—a correspondent. Reynolds’s many iterations of her memoir have up until now sat in the Moorland-Spingarn Center collection at Howard University. While the reader may not cotton to many of Reynolds’s blithe and at times tin-eared observations, Hutchinson has rescued from the dustbin of history a fascinating and imitable life of a bohemian, sexually adventurous, and well-traveled black woman. Reynolds was no great writer and even her trials in trying to find a publisher are probably worthy of publication just for their moxie, but she does in fact have much to say about life in between the colorline. Hutchinson’s introduction and critical race theory scholar Patricia Williams help set the stage for Reynolds’s memoir, and in many respects perform better than the [End Page 91] memoirist herself. Reynolds, though, is a woman who clearly enjoyed life and that alone is worth the read.



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pp. 91-92
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