I… I just…
In all honesty, I probably shouldn’t even be writing this review just yet, because I still haven’t wrapped my mind around it.
And it’s my own fault, really. I mean, what was I expecting, really, when I read the following phrases in the jacket?
- Agrarian ghetto
- Drive-thru funeral
- Little Rascals
- Reinstating slavery
I probably should’ve put that book back on the shelf and walked away, whistling.
I blame Sarah Silverman. She described the book as “… brilliant. Like demented angels wrote it.” So, I had to read this – to get a glimpse inside the mind of a demented angel, if for no other reason.
So… what’s it like inside a crazy angel’s head?
It’s dark, Fam. Very dark. And uncomfortable. And strangely hilarious. In fact, there were times when I would almost throw the book in the trash, only to be stopped by some brilliantly critical passage like:
Don’t tell me Kinshasa, the poorest city in the poorest country in the world, a place where the average per capita income is one goat bell, two bootleg Michael Jackson cassette tapes, and three sips of potable water per year, thinks we’re too poor to associate with (147).
Oh, man. So. Many. Gems.
Anyway, here’s the brief recap: this novel is about an unnamed narrator and his abusive and (I mean, let’s face it) downright psychotic/psychologist father, and about the strange city of Dickens, California.
And he owns a slave – but we’ll get to that in a second.
This book is a scalding criticism of “post-racial” society…
Pause. Can we just take a moment to reflect on the ridiculousness of that whole concept? Thanks.
So, anyway – the book is a scalding blah, blah, blah of society blah… but wrapped up in switchblade wit. And what’s even better? Most of the best witticisms are delivered by Hominy, the only living member of the Little Rascals, who volunteers becomes the narrator’s slave.
Yup. That happens.
But back to the plot. The narrator, a native of Dickens, grows up under the sadistic tutelage of his father, a sociologist, who almost kills his own son during some of his insane social experiments. The father gets killed by police (in the back, while running away – Hey, South Carolina); the next few pages read like some blaxploitation “Weekend at Bernie’s”, as the narrator lugs his body around the town.
The son then takes his father’s place as the town’s resident “nigger whisperer” (OMGOMGOMGOMGOMG), whose job it is to talk to stressed out Black residents and keep them from snapping and committing violence…
At some point, the town of Dickens ceases to exist (according to GPS), and the narrator decides he’s going to re-institute segregation in order to get it back on the map.
I really don’t want to give away anything else here, because I feel like I’ve already told you too much.
And yet, there’s still so much.
So, here’s my five star rating system:
One Star = I can’t believe I read that garbage all the way to the end. Now, I’ll never get those days back.
Two Stars = If I didn’t have to read this for book club, I probably wouldn’t have even picked it up in the store.
Three Stars = It actually wasn’t bad, but if my house was on fire, I probably wouldn’t grab it on my way out.
Four Stars = This was good! I mean… I wonder how much Half Priced Books would give me for it?
Five Stars = One of my favorite books EVER. Like, I would NEVER loan this out. I will definitely read this again.
So, on my rating scale, I’d have to give this one FIVE STARS. I will definitely read this again, just so that I can catch all of the nuances that I missed.
Because I’m sure I’ve missed something.