A biting satire about a young man's isolated upbringing and the race trial that sends him to the Supreme Court, Paul Beatty's The Sellout showcases a comic genius at the top of his game. It challenges the sacred tenets of the United States Constitution, urban life, the civil rights movement, the father-son relationship, and the holy grail of racial equality: the black Chinese restaurant.
Paul Beatty is a wizard, whose magics involve summoning the most extreme taboos and making them into a masterful truth told through fiction.
This novel has already been likened to Twain in terms of satire, and its awards speak to its reception by the literary world. But it also works on a very human level. It reaches down to the best and worst aspects of all of us, and acknowledges society's many failings. Its narrator and protagonist, nicknamed The Sellout, is a black man in the Obama years who re-establishes slavery and segregation in his city. The results are often comical, but just as often are deeply unnerving and made my stomach twist and my spine tingle with revulsion on more than one occasion. This isn't just because of the standard racist rhetoric and problems one would expect. Beatty's masterful narrative expresses the realistic problems in the implementation of the highest ideals of the Civil Rights Movement, and is able to scathingly cut into the right, left, and center of American politics, history, geography, and racial identity.
This book is simultaneously not for the faint of heart and probably one of those books that should be required reading in every high school in America. For all of its sensationalism, there is truth. For all of its truth, it never limits itself to one narrative ideological understand of that concept. And for all of its horror and emotion, it is also a marvellously smart book.
As for the audiobook narration, I can speak nothing but praise of Prentice Onayemi's delivery of dialogue and prose sections alike, making the characters come alive, and delivering the text with an invigorating spirit.
There are some profoundly dark elements to this text, but at the end of it all, I feel there is a sense of hope amidst that darkness that is the more prevalent quality.
“AUDIBLE 20 REVIEW SWEEPSTAKES ENTRY”
A pyramid predating all known cultures appears without warning. Its discovery throws into question everything we know about the origins of mankind. Inside lies incredible technology, proof of a culture far more advanced than our own. Something dark lurks within, eager to resume a war as old as mankind. When it is unleashed it heralds the end of our species’ reign.
Would you listen to No Such Thing As Werewolves again? Why?
Yes. This book was not what I expected. It was not what I was looking for when I got it. And I loved every minute of it. No Such Thing As Werewolves takes so many of the classic tropes of bad horror and sci-fii, makes them its own, and creates a fun dramatic experience that shows us how good those old overused tropes can be when done right. This book truly is self-aware of its own over-the-top ridiculousness as it spins a plot around ancient werewolves, pyramids with super technology, and solar flares causing the apocalypse. Despite sounding like a History Channel special, this book actually is full of dramatic tension, horror, and AIDS zombies. Yeah, it's well worth reading.
Who was your favorite character and why?
This is a difficult question. Probably Jordan, the military/mercenary leader who comes off somewhere between a compassionate every man and the experienced tactician expected of military fiction.
Which character – as performed by Ryan Kennard Burke – was your favorite?
The same as above. Jordan's voice felt like it conveyed the most emotion and insight.
Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?
The last scene of the book had a nice dark twist built out of the dramatic tension established throughout the story that gave a juicy climactic punch to the guts and delivered the horror I was hoping for.
Any additional comments?
This book walks a strange line between sci-fi, horror, modern fantasy and conspiracy theory, and has a fun time with all of them. I bought it looking for something else--a book on werewolves/shapeshifters that explored some more in-depth aspects of their society in a modern fantasy setting. I didn't get what I expected. And if a friend had told m the plot, I'd likely dismiss their recommendation. But instead, I found myself recommending this book to a number of friends. No Such Thing As Werewolves has all of the great over-the-top elements of a solid B movie without being restricted by genre!
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
China Miéville doesn’t follow trends, he sets them. Relentlessly pushing his own boundaries as a writer—and in the process expanding the boundaries of the entire field—with Embassytown, Miéville has crafted an extraordinary novel that is not only a moving personal drama but a gripping adventure of alien contact and war. In the far future, humans have colonized a distant planet, home to sentient beings famed for a language unique in the universe, one that only a few altered human ambassadors can speak....
Would you listen to Embassytown again? Why?
No. The book is great. The story is great (when it picks up). And the recording is great. However, the book is meant to offer commentary on language, and I had to look at Wikipedia for reference to understand a lot of the written subtlety of it. Also, one alien species speaks a language with two separate speaking organs making different simultaneous sounds. Narrator Susan Duerden uses sound editing to handle this brilliantly. However, it makes for a very difficult listening experience. I enjoyed the book, but would rather re-read a text copy.
What did you like best about this story?
The examination of language not as communicating merely what is but what could be is a fascinating phenomena. The protagonist is a "simile"--a living extension of Language. She acts "like a girl who ate what she was given." Thus, she is able to introduce new ideas to an alien culture by comparing other existing ideas to her--the girl who ate what she was given. An addict consumes a drug "like the girl who ate what she was given." That whole idea--making people into similes, into extensions of language--is absolutely astounding!
Which scene was your favorite?
This is difficult. A few scenes come to mind. One small scene was when someone's biomechanic prosthetic sprouted an ear to listen to an addictive linguistic drug being spoken. That small detail really intrigued me and served as a great metaphor for addiction and technology.
If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?
"In space, nobody can hear your two speaking organs scream!"China Mieville has many books worthy of movies. This one might be too smart for Hollywood to do.
Any additional comments?
China Mieville is an amazing author. Susan Duerden is a fantastic narrator!The story here is as captivating as the science fiction elements!However, this book is not always easy to listen to because of the complex nature of sometimes hearing two sounds spoken simultaneously for short monosyllabic names, greetings, and other moments.
Still, it was well worth the listen and I'm glad I purchased the book!
Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. Now, he's sure he'll be the first person to die there. After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he's alive - and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive. Chances are, though, he won't have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plainold "human error" are much more likely to kill him first.
What did you love best about The Martian?
I didn't want to buy this book. I have a long list of books to get through, and this wasn't on it. But a friend recommended it, and gave reasons that persuaded me. He told me of the hard science as well as the great writing, and I was convinced. He didn't warn me it would also be hilariously funny. I am immensely happy with this purchase.
What was one of the most memorable moments of The Martian?
SPOILERS!!!!! No. Just no. This is a terrible question! But seriously? You want an answer? Fine. Be that way.
The opening scene is brilliant. From the first paragraph, the story draws you in.
It opens with a protagonist stranded on Mars, abandoned for dead, entering an account of his travails and how he survived into the computer log. Being marooned is terrifying, but being marooned on Mars is even worse. And yet, despite maintaining the terror, the protagonist still makes you smile. So, that's ONE of the many memorable scenes, and early enough it won't spoil anything for you.
What does R. C. Bray bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?
The emphasis of comedy is reemphasized with R.C Bray's reading, and he makes the science accessible to those who might not otherwise find it so (myself included on that list).
Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?
No. It's juggles humor, story, and hard science. The last one is just something I personally cannot digest in one sitting, though three or four sittings was enough for me to get through it all, which is twice as fast as I might do with other similar sic fi books.
Any additional comments?
The book speaks for itself. Now go read it and let its words speak to you so I'm not wasting mine either spoiling parts of it or stating redundancies to its own awesomeness.