Racial tension had been building for years near Prairie Winds Golf Course on the east side of St. Louis. In 2007, black businessman, Tuey O'Tweety faced the brunt of the discrimination.
Can the game of golf resolve the issue?
Life becomes even more difficult for Tuey when the frustrations of harassment become a daily nuisance. Corrupt politicians, manipulated city hall employees, and hypocritical community leaders add to the unrelenting aggravation.
Through an odd connection Tuey lands with an eclectic group of golfing misfits. Daily visits to the golf course expose him to an unfamiliar slice of life. An unlikely player leads him down a seemingly innocent path. The world of black and the world of white become intertwined in a world of intricate fantasy.
Join head golf pro J Dub Schroeder and his brother Curt, as they open the clubhouse doors of Prairie Winds Golf Course to a man trying to find his way out of an impoverished situation. One by one a Catholic priest, greedy banker, local farmer, retired luxury car dealer, Japanese businessman, evangelistic preacher and college football referee weave their lives into Tuey’s plight. Explore the convoluted path through the fairways of Prairie Winds Golf Course that has become “Tuey’s Course.”
“Uh few uh da guys wanted ta go golfin’,” Tuey responded as he
walked toward the television set. He lifted his fingers to the blinds and
snuck a peek outside.
“Golfin’!” LeVournique shouted. “Since win ya start golfin’? We’s ain’t
got no money fo’ ya ta be doin’ dat.”
“Sum uh da fellas wanted ta git tagedda fo’ ole times sake,” Tuey
replied as he adjusted the oscillating fan to blow more directly on him.
“I’s only duz it once or twice uh year.”
“Wuzn’t it hot out der?” LeVournique asked. The humidity in August
was as high as the temperature on the thermometer.
“Whew weeeeeeee wuz it,” Tuey exclaimed as he reached into his
pocket, grabbed a handkerchief, and dabbed at the beads of sweat that
were on his forehead.
LeVournique walked into the front room with a bowl of freshly peeled
apples and offered them to Tuey. He reached in for two slices as he peered
through the blinds once more. “What’s ya be doin’ now?” she asked.
“Keepin’ mine eyes out fo’ dat Big Bertha,” Tuey responded. “Dat
woman have it in fo’ me.”
Title of Document: Book Review
Book Title: Tuey’s Course
Author: James Ross
ISBN Number: 978-1-4363-8994-5
Genre and Target Market: fiction, human drama, race relations
Publication Date: 2008
Book Length in Pages: 286
I always enjoy the opportunity to review more than one work by the same author. I am able to see the evolution of his writing as well as develop a better sense of what he is trying to accomplish through the sharing of his stories and characters. Tuey’s Course is the third book by author James Ross, with his previous publications, Lifetime Loser and Finish Line on the bookshelves last year and earlier this year, respectively. The Prairie Winds Golf Course serves as the consistent backdrop for all three novels, but each book takes its readers on a completely unique journey. In his first book, Ross unveiled a captivating story of crime and shady business dealings. Next, he shared the coming-of-age of two teenage boys who learn important life lessons from their ailing mentor. Now, in Tuey’s Course, Ross challenges us in his brutally honest portrayal of race, class and political power structures. Those who have enjoyed Ross’ attention to creating rich detail and fascinating characters in his previous works, as well as readers who are discovering Ross for the first time with Tuey’s Course, will not be disappointed in this new release that makes you think and may even make you angry.
Tuey’s Course focuses on WeWildapheet Ulisees O’Tweety (known as Tuey) and his struggles to make an honest living while fighting the corrupt elected officials in his town who seem determined to thwart his efforts at every turn. Tuey diligently attends every council meeting and sometimes uses unusual methods to convey his frustration with the city’s establishment. In sharing the details of Tuey’s life and his standing on the socioeconomic ladder, Ross makes a bigger statement about the impact that race and money has on the voice a person enjoys in our society. And, he shows that the desperation eventually reached by the poor and the overlooked can lead to tragic results. Ross continues his practice of interweaving multiple plot lines by including a referee who throws football games in return for a payout, a gay priest who flies to Vegas for the weekend with his lover at the expense of a crooked banker, and a developer who is willing to commit crimes in order to get the land that he desires. All of these characters, as well as the golf course regulars we have come to know in Ross’ previous books, come into contact with Tuey to create a novel that manages to be both layered and cohesive in its storylines.
As was the case in Finish Line, Ross employs racial stereotypes when writing the dialect and creating the background stories of his characters. Tuey speaks with the vernacular of an African American in a way that may have been more common during the period in which Ross’ distant relative, Mark Twain, was sharing his candid views on American society. The ethnic neighborhoods described by Ross are blatant in their names, as the Asian residents live in Little Chang Hai and the Arabs live in an area called the Sand Dunes. The popular rapper has a ridiculous name, the Asian investor is short and shifty, and the always-drunk pilot and a couple of his cohorts at the golf course have no hesitation in using derogatory slurs. Every ethnic label is exposed and exaggerated in Tuey’s Course. Upon my initial reading, I will admit that the language made me uncomfortable. I was concerned that, by taking this writing style to extremes, Ross was simply perpetuating unfair racial views that still exist in our country. Upon further reflection and after reading the conclusion of the book, however, I realize that Ross’ intention was to evoke emotion from his reading audience. Tuey’s Course is not a light read meant for casual summertime reading at the beach. You will be forced to examine your own reaction to the character portrayals and think about where our society places different groups of people.
James Ross succeeds in creating yet another thoughtful and detailed book in Tuey’s Course. He provides an important and unique voice to the works of fiction that are making statements as to who we are as people. I believe that readers likely will have varying reactions to the characters in Tuey’s Course, which will make for great conversation. And, it appears that Ross is not done with his writing endeavors. A serial killer who makes random appearances through news reports in both Finish Line and Tuey’s Course is still a mystery. Is this a teaser from Ross, or just a secondary plot to throw us off-track? Time will tell. For now, I recommend that you grab a copy of Tuey’s Course and prepare to react!
From the first book in the Prairie Winds series, Lifetime Loser, author James Ross shows his penchant for exposing the bad guys—those unscrupulous and unsavory among us in the fields of real estate, law, accounting, and governance who play dirty politics and prey upon the well-intended but not-overly-astute average Joe. In Tuey’s Course, Ross ratchets up the heat and widens the gap between the haves and have-nots, shining a glaring light on a wider-than-you’d imagine ring of greed, power, and hypocrisy in white America.
Twenty new characters combine with several we already know in an intertwined series of quick-moving and interesting plots and schemes, some of which come to bear heavily on the shoulders of protagonist WeWildapheet Ulysees O’Tweety (Tuey).
Tuey is an excavator married to his high school sweetheart (LeVournique) for nearly twenty years and living, as he would say, among his own kind on the edge of town. His gapped-toothed constant smile, poor black man’s dialect, and innocence have us sympathetic as he struggles under a mountain of injustice bestowed on him by a host of animal look-alikes at city hall.
The government’s incessant message that his business isn’t welcome in their town presses down on him and strains his marriage, but when Tuey tries to make things right he becomes further alienated by the city and victimized by bank president Harold Syms. Syms is portrayed as a sly fox who has numerous people in his pocket and skillfully beguiles them to join him in using other people’s money to increase his and their personal wealth. One of Syms’ deals is with a local farmer/landowner who decides to sell the family’s land adjacent to the golf course for development. Syms stands to exact a hefty profit for himself, of course. In exchange for a necessary easement through Prairie Winds Golf Course, J Dub and Curt, who have met Tuey and understand his plight, insist that Tuey be awarded the job of running a long sewer line for the project. This brings Tuey into the fold of the colorful Prairie Winds family.
Much of the time we’re back in the company of the regulars—in and out of casinos, the clubhouse, and the golf course—and enjoying their antics. Is it my imagination, or is Ross hinting that there might be a somewhat rotten apple in the barrel?
Tuey’s Course happens to overlap with Finish Line at the time Curt is battling cancer. A knock-out, athletic govie-gal who can play the game catches Curt’s eye and brightens his world at the same time that weather set-backs, equipment breakdowns, mounting friction at city hall and at home have Tuey crying for help and relief. He turns to religion in a church in his neighborhood where congregants pray for him and believe there are mighty lessons to be learned from the animal kingdom. He turns to the regulars at Prairie Winds, including Puddles who leads him to a cave. Here is where Ross flexes his fictional muscle. The reader is uncertain whether they are in a dream or real time, but the plot sorts itself out and the book comes to a surprising and quite climatic ending.
Ross’s writing shows an increasing level of skill that includes the simultaneous climax toward the end of the book, a lot of satire, and fantasy—something new for him. Knowing Ross, he’s dropped a few crumbs along the trail that we might expect to surface in some future tale. I’d bet there will be more about the human tooth from Lifetime Loser, certainly some further romantic development with Curt, and I wonder if something might be lurking about the GRS killer.
A word about the new characters: some are caricature-like and compared directly to animals for reasons which become obvious, and others are so rife with stereotype that at times you think the author is kidding until you realize he expects you to say “typical.” He is certain that we all have noticed these characters around us, we’ve all formed opinions, and in most cases, we’ve mostly turned a blind eye and gone on with our own business as usual.
I’ve read and enjoyed all three of Ross’s books so far. This past weekend I was far from home driving through the St. Louis area when I caught myself looking to the right and left for signs of Prairie Winds and lime green skull caps.
Barbara Milbourn is a writer and editor affiliated with Writers in the Sky and living in Nashville.