Alison Mills Newman’s innovative, genre-bending novel has long been out of print and impossible to find. A “fluently funky mix of standard and nonstandard English,” as the poet and scholar Harryette Mullen once put it, Francisco is the first-person account of a young actress and musician and her growing disillusionment with her success in Hollywood. Her wildly original and vivid voice chronicles a free-spirited life with her filmmaker lover, visiting friends and family up and down California, as well as her involvement in the 1970s Black Arts Movement. Love and friendship, long, meaningful conversations, parties and dancing—Francisco celebrates, as she improvises in the book, “the workings of a positive alive life that is good value, quality, carin, truth … the gift of art for the survival of the human heart.”
When blackness, then and now, is so burdened with pain, it is a blessing to find a story of black lovers, written by a woman learning to love herself as she falls in love with Francisco.
Mills Newman’s exquisitely distilled novel, Francisco, is the song one would expect Love to be singing these troubled days of the 1970s—a song you cannot have heard before, off-key and haunting, disturbing even in its unfamiliarity.
Mills Newman has done the rare thing: written with beauty, power, and purity about a woman.