This is how Cedric the Entertainer’s grandfather inspired his debut crime novel

Stephen Nartey September 07, 2023
Cedric the Entertainer/Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Though Cedric the Entertainer’s bootlegger grandfather died long before he was born, tales told about his extraordinary life always enthralled him. But, he decided not to keep what these stories meant to him and so he chose to write a novel from the story of Floyd “Babe” Boyce, a bootlegger in Caruthersville, Mo.

Many of Floyd’s heroic exploits took place over July 4th, 1948. Cedric said he was fascinated by stories of his maternal grandfather told by his mother and uncles. Cedric indicated that he later heard commentary about how he (Cedric) walked like his uncle or shared similar characteristics with him. The book was his own way of detailing the family tree and its lineage and what it means for generations unborn.

In the novel’s unfolding narrative, Cendric introduces readers to the protagonist, Floyd, and his wartime comrade, Karter. Together, they enter into a deal with Chicago‘s crime syndicate leader, Tommy Wojak, involving the purchase of 3,000 cases of untaxed bourbon from Canada, amounting to $54,000, according to the New York Post.

However, complications arise when Floyd, who possesses card-reading skills, experiences a significant gambling loss. In a desperate bid to salvage his marriage and protect his family, Floyd embarks on a train robbery, leading to unforeseen and dramatic consequences.

Cedric’s expected bestseller wasn’t his efforts alone. He collaborated with Alan Eisenstock who provided numerous notes and conveyed themes and character descriptions. They worked together to establish the book’s tone, drawing inspiration from the Walter Mosley era, notably “Devil in a Blue Dress.”

During this era, black men in America aspired to power and entrepreneurship, despite facing challenging times. Cedric explained how people of color exuded a sense of gentility in their appearance and behavior, reflecting a distinct cultural aspect of striving for equal footing and recognition.

He expressed a strong interest in adapting the book, “Flipping Boxcars”, into either a movie or a TV series. He revealed that the idea for the book initially stemmed from his plans to create a series with similar themes. However, he believed the series should be set in a more urban environment. To address this, he began developing the series around his grandfather’s experiences in St. Louis during a later period than the one depicted in “Flipping Boxcars.”

Flipping Boxcars would be on the bookshelves on September 12.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: September 7, 2023


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