Author: Phillip Good
ISBN: 978-1-44040-184-8

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Phillip Good taught at Tulane Medical School, has written twenty-one novels and hundreds of articles for a variety of newspapers and magazines. He has also authored seven text books in his prolific writing career. A Sad and Angry Man is the second of his works of fiction that I have had the pleasure of reading and reviewing. The first was I Love You Maggie.

Doctor Peter Wood (Ph.D) is a common character between the two novels that I have thus far read. Doctor Wood is from California, a prestigious Berkeley Graduate. In this book he finds himself employed at a majority black university in the deep south just post integration when there remained vast differences between the educational structures for the black and white communities. In his best efforts Doctor Wood attempts to bridge those gaps and make friends with his fellow faculty.  His heart and mind are in the right place, but he meets with somewhat typical resistance on all fronts and finally comes to the foregone conclusion that he does not understand these people and vice versa.

While setting up house and tying up business ends in this new locale Doctor Wood meets and has a relationship with a woman from his new answering service, Peri. She is lovely and devoted to their relationship, almost to a fault. However, she refuses, for the most part, to take part in his university happenings which would go a long way toward helping him to feel safe in his new and unsettling surroundings. Peter loves her madly, but almost ends up losing her because there is so much they do not know about each other and never quite speak about. The common thread that binds them is sex and food.

Peter’s contract with this university runs for three years, but is renewable each year. During his tenure at this university he has many affairs with staff and staffs’ spouses. Peter (Doctor Wood) has never initiated those affairs and feels some guilt because of them, but never can stop them before they start. All of this adds to the complexity of this character.

There are moments when Peter thinks back on his own childhood and how events unfolded then in order to grasp the here and now. He seems at odds between his failing first marriage and his new relationship with Peri. Despite his uncertainty about his job and love life he has parental obligations to three daughters that remain in California. Oftentimes he calls them for advice or to use as sounding boards in his new life in the deep south.

Phillip Good has a wonderful way of writing that makes his story unique and distinct. His words on the pages are almost like Doctor Wood is speaking to you, telling you his story as it unfurls. There are moments when you (the reader) laugh, scratch your head, cry, and wonder what is coming next. 

As an end note, this book provides a lot of background on the main character, Doctor Peter Wood that was not abundantly apparent in the first book that I read and reviewed (and in retrospect perhaps misunderstood). I wish I would have read this one prior to reading I Love You Maggie, even if somewhat out of chronological order for Doctor Wood’s life experiences because it fills in all of the blanks.

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