Slumberland: If you don’t read this book you hate yourself!

January 28, 2009

So now that you know what it looks like there should be no excuses.  If you recall, this past summer I suggested that you hate yourselves if you don’t see the movie The Wackness.  Well, those of you that saw it should now trust my advice, and for those that didn’t, this may be an opportunity to redeem yourself (with yourself, who currently hates you).  We’ve been repping Paul Beatty on the blog for his other two novels, Tuff and White Boy Shuffle – both fantastic reads.  His new novel, however, is, in my opinion, his best yet.  Slumberland is the story of DJ Darky, a man searching for the final touch to complete his creation: the perfect beat.  A search that takes him from Los Angeles to a small bar in Berlin.  Dj Darky is insightful, composed, insatiable, neurotic, enigmatic, brilliant. and a veritable encyclopedia for all things musical.  The book has been described by another favorite writer of mine, Adam Mansbach (Angry Black White Boy), as “an epic mash-up of race, music, culture, history, and everything else worth throwing on a turntable.” Paul Beatty spins this deliciously hilarious, inspiring, and hypnotizing tale of music, race, politics,  sexuality, and the meaning of life (set against Germany before and after  the destruction of the Berlin Wall) with such rhythm and effortless grace he sucked me into the world of DJ Darky and the curious nightlife of both pre and post-unification Berlin.

Without divulging too many of the priceless gems Beatty sprinkles throughout, I thought I’d hit you off with a few choice quotes (as if the above praise hadn’t already convinced you to immediately run to your local bookseller):

I remember everything I’ve ever heard.  Every dropped nickel, raindrop drip-drop, sneaker squeak, and sheep bleat.  Every jump rope chant, Miss Mary Mack Mack hand clap, and “eenie meanie chili beanie oop bop-bop bellini” method for choosing who’s it.  I remember every sappy R&B radio lyric and distorted Hendrix riff.  Every Itzhak Perlman pluck and squishybackseat contorted make-out session.  I can still hear every Hey you, You the man, and John Philip Sousa euphonium toot and every tree rustle and street-corner hustle.  I remember every sound I’ve ever heard.  It’s like my entire life is a song I can’t get out of my head. (pgs. 14-15)

Next time I’ll tell you about how whenever two black quarterbacks face each other in a football game, black America gets a collective migraine because we don’t know which team to cheer for.  (pg. 93)

and one more to close this show…

The twilight was uniquely uninspiring.  The sun looked wobbly and slumped toward the horizon like a carsick child sinking deeper and deeper into the backseat.  Its last act of consciousness, this solar hurl of refracted light, the colors of which were so putrid they scattered the birds and the clouds, and left the moon to clean up the mess.  (pg. 133)

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