live at five
  • Milkweed Editions (1996)
  • Harvest Books (1997)
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Brandon Wilson anchors a television newscast that is regularly trounced by reruns of “The Facts of Life.”  When a new producer, hell-bent on raising channel 13’s ratings decides that his middle-class African American anchor with a penthouse isn’t “black” enough, he has a brainstorm: Brandon is to redefine himself by doing a series from a new home in the inner city.  There Brandon meets Nita, who manages an apartment building in addition to juggling three kinds, night school and a job.

Brandon sees his move as a Faustian bargain that allows him to tell the stories of “real folks.” But when the station demands something more sensational, Brandon and Nita find their loyalties caught up in a media frenzy that only Nita can find a way to tame.

Haynes lays down authentic characters, crisp dialogue and brisk narration; especially entertaining are the excerpts from Brandon’s viewer mail. With this novel, Haynes should establish a reputation as a sharp-eyed observer of race and class issues.