By Paul Beatty
Genre: Jazz, Hip-Hop (fiction)
You don't have to be a jazz fan to enjoy Slumberland but it helps. Paul Beatty not only knows a hell of a lot about jazz but he writes like a jazz musician. He states the theme, write like a maniac around it, wanders off into imaginative detours then miraculously returns to the theme. His writing is loaded with outrageous and hilarious ideas, then he's off to the next one. Beatty manages to say a lot about race, music, and culture, both American and European. And before I forget, there's a plot. DJ Darky has created the perfect beat but needs the elusive jazz man Charles Stone aka The Schwa, to complete it. So he goes off to Berlin, getting a job in a bar called Slumberland to find his dream. Before the novel is through, the author manages to unsettle a number of sacred Black icons and question our ideas about what defines culture and race in our pop culture.It is nice to see a young writer so willing to stir up the stew. I would have given this five stars but I felt the last 100 pages dragged slightly and The Schwa was a little bit of a let down from what the author built him up to be. Yet, Slumberland is still a hell of a read. I will certainly be checking out The White Boy Shuffle and Tuff very soon.
Background CD: Various Artists - Blue Note Records: Now and Then