Welcome to one of America's most vibrant cities, what Ishmael Reed calls "planet city." He takes us behind the scenes of Oakland's Japanese jazz clubs and black cowboy parades, through its beautiful hills and waterfronts, and into its fascinating history.
"Not Present Day Oakland"
Brilliantly portrayed by a novelist with "a talent for hyperbole and downright yarning unequaled since Mark Twain", (Saturday Review), this slave's-eye view of the Civil War exposes America's racial foibles of the past and present with uninhibited humor and panache. Mixing history, fantasy, political reality, and comedy, Ishmael Reed spins the tale of three runaway slaves and the master determined to catch them.
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.
"BEEN THERE, DID THAT, GOT A T-SHIRT TO PROVE IT!"
Often overshadowed by San Francisco, its twinkling sister city across the Bay, Oakland is itself an American wonder. The city is surrounded by and filled with natural beauty - mountains and hills and lakes and a bay - and architecture that mirrors its history as a Spanish mission, a gold rush outpost, and home of the West's most devious robber barons. It's also a city of artists and blue-collar workers, the birthplace of the Black Panthers, neighbor to Berkeley, and home to a vibrant and volatile stew of immigrants and refugees.
In 2010, the Newseum in Washington D.C. finally obtained the suit O. J. Simpson wore in court the day he was acquitted, and it now stands as both an artifact in their "Trial of the Century" exhibit and a symbol of the American media’s endless hunger for the criminal and the celebrity. This event serves as a launching point for Ishmael Reed’s Juice!, a novelistic commentary on the post-Simpson American media frenzy from one of the most controversial figures in American literature today.
"Folks. This here is the story of the Loop Garoo Kid. A cowboy so bad he made a working posse of spells phone in sick. A bullwhacker so unfeeling he left the print of winged mice on hides of crawling women. A desperado so onery he made the Pope cry and the most powerful of cattlemen shed his head to the Executioner's swine." And so begins the HooDoo Western by Ishmael Reed, author of Mumbo Jumbo and one of America's most innovative and celebrated writers. Reed demolishes white American history and folklore as well as Christian myth in this masterful satire of contemporary American life.
"Liberating the Masses"
In The Terrible Threes, Ishmael Reed proves that he is one of the most innovative voices in contemporary literature. This adventure into the world of offbeat humor and on-target social criticism is a vision of America in the not-too-distant future, a portrait of a fairy-tale gone awry. This novel begins where The Terrible Twos left off, in the late 1990s, three years after President and former fashion model Dean Clift was laughed out of office, with the nation in chaos.
Ishmael Reed's electrifying first novel zooms readers off to the crazy, ominous kingdom of HARRY SAM - a miserable and dangerous place ruled for thirty years by Harry Sam, a former used car salesman who wields his power from his bathroom throne. In a land of a thousand contradictions peopled by cops and beatniks, black nationalists and white liberals, the crusading Bukka Doopeyduk leads a rebellion against the corrupt Sam in a wildly uproarious and scathing satire....
"Just Plain Fun"
The Terrible Twos is a wickedly funny, sharp-edged fictional assault on all those sulky, spoiled naysayers needing instant gratification - Americans. Ishmael Reed's sixth novel depicts a zany, bizarre, and all-too-believable future where mankind's fate depends upon a jolly old gent named St. Nicholas and a Risto-rasta dwarf named Black Peter, who together wreak mischievous havoc on Wall Street and in the Oval Office. This offbeat, on-target social critique makes marvelous fun of everything that is American, from commercialism to Congress, Santa Claus to religious cults.
It's the 1980s and the politics of the New York theater scene have taken yet another turn.
Masochism is out and feminism is in, Jews are out and Germans are in, race is out and gender is in, and everyone's fighting (and rewriting) for a piece of the pie. In this hilarious, devastating, but also deeply sympathetic novel, Ishmael Reed turns characters on their backs, sides, tops and bottoms to expose the multiple hypocrisies at the heart of American culture.
"Muhammad Ali: Worshiped. Misunderstood. Exploited." is from the June 04, 2016 Sports section of The New York Times. It was written by Ishmael Reed and narrated by Keith Sellon-Wright.