Paul Beatty's hilarious and scathing debut novel, The White Boy Shuffle, is about Gunnar Kaufman, an awkward, black surfer bum who is moved by his mother from Santa Monica to urban West Los Angeles. There, he begins to undergo a startling transformation from neighborhood outcast to basketball superstar, and eventually to reluctant messiah of a "divided, downtrodden people".
©1996 Paul Beatty (P)2016 Audible, Inc.
Love a good mystery, but don't care much for pure thrillers.
This is my first book by Paul Beatty; he really writes extremely well, but the story is more like a collection of one-act plays than a coherent whole. While I enjoyed each act, the story itself progressed little. The protagonist, Gunnar Kaufman, is apparently a genius at whatever he attempts; he is a published poet, a basketball star, a well-read philosopher. So handsome as to attract women yet remaining chaste. He is a wellspring of contradictions, with a philosophy that, in the end, is depraved. I realize that this is satire, but it is often over the top. This sort of humor works better if it is more subtle. This was more like slapstick. Yet the prose is unique and at time marvelous.
Startling story about an adolescent African American male's growth and development from a white suburb to a poor inner city neighborhood. Includes historical time and event references, enough to make a reader old enough to recognize them wonder if this story is about a real person. The narrator makes the story! His verbal characterizations of all the characters are right on point. Hilarious at times and also painful. The irony of story, often evident when Gunnar, the main character, is speaking reveals brilliance of Beatty. Gunnar is a terribly interesting young man. So talented that he navigates successfully a life of challenges, obstacles, deceptions, facades of many forms. This story has to be listened AND read because there are so many layers to uncover. An initial reading is just entertaining. A second and third read is educational as it describes the society of the time period and how low income families of various backgrounds survived. There is also another aspect to be studied and it related to how women are portrayed in the novel. This is a fascinating piece of work. I also recommend it for book studies and literature courses.
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