"The Last Days of Louisiana Redblends paradox, hyperbole, understatement and signifyin' so expertlyyou can almost hear a droll black voice telling the tales as you readit." - The New Republic
When Papa LaBas (private eye, noonday HooDoo, and hero of Reed's Mumbo Jumbo) comes to Berkeley, California, to investigate the mysterious death of Ed Yellings, owner of the Solid Gumbo Works, he finds himself fighting the rising tide of violence propagated by Louisiana Red and those militant opportunists, the Moochers.
A HooDoo detective story and a comprehensive satire on the explosive politics of the '60s, The Last Days of Louisiana Red exposes the hypocrisy of contemporary American culture and race politics.
©1974 Ishmael Reed (P)2012 Audible, Inc.
I've had this book in my Wish List for a very long time, not buying it because I was conflicted about the content. Although I'm black, I don't particularly care for black literature. Not because the works aren't good - it's just that many such stories hit too close to home and make me uncomfortable reliving certain events in my actual existence as a black American.
OK, so I finally download the book today. Immediately I knew this wasn't going to be a great experience for me. The story is written in a way that is reminiscent of the newly emerging black authors and playwrights in the late 1960s, early 1970s. At that time I was a theater major at Howard University. A top drama school, the curriculum suddenly went from staging works like "Antigone" and "Othello" to original ground-breaking plays by new, often militant, playwrights who had more social conscience than talent. Everything about this book reminds me of the creative cacophony in which black artists from all mediums found themselves during a time of unprecedented political and social upheaval. We were faced with black awareness, female empowerment, and fighting a war that we didn't believe in. This book pretty much sums up that era from a black American point of view. However, I'm not sure how relevant this book is today. I can't even figure out what demographic would be interested in the story which unfolds here. It is a hard read, bogged down in the ideological rhetoric of the time. I often found myself getting frustrated with the dated sounding text. The only real saving grace is the narrator who "keeps it real" while maintaining an intelligent and skilled delivery.
That said, there are people who would likely find this book interesting and fresh. It is not a bad book - I just don't like it. When I listen to or read a book, I want to be either entertained or educated. Here, I just felt it was "déjà vu, all over again". If this book was a movie, the tag line would be "Gumbo Reheated". But, try it - you might like it. I make an excellent seafood and andouille gumbo. There ARE times that it tastes better the next day, although I wouldn't take a chance on it a generation later! 😄
I think this audio edition of louisiana red is really impressive, as it really emphasizes the cadence with which Reed writes.
Mumbo Jumbo, other novels from this post-modern black era, etc. I think this novel is so contextual to the era it was written in, really that era is the only thing I can compare it to.
Absolutely, it was well-paced and allowed the reader to properly hear the story.
Gumbo, Voodoo, Murder.
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