A NoveleBook - 2015
"Raised in the "agrarian ghetto" of Dickens--improbably smack in the middle of downtown L.A.--the narrator of The Sellout resigned himself to the fate of all other middle-class Californians: "to die in the same bedroom you'd grown up in, looking up at the crack in the stucco ceiling that had been there since '68 quake." Raised by a single father, a controversial sociologist at Riverside Community College, he spent his childhood as the subject in psychological studies, classic experiments revised to include a racially-charged twist. He also grew up believing this pioneering work might result in a memoir that would solve their financial woes. But when his father is killed in a shoot out with the police, he realizes there never was a memoir. All that's left is the bill for a drive-thru funeral and some maudlin what-ifs. Fuelled by this injustice and the general disrepair of his down-trodden hometown, he sets out to right another wrong: Dickens has literally been removed from the map to save California further embarrassment. Enlisting the help of the town's most famous resident--the last surviving Little Rascal, Hominy Jenkins, our narrator initiates a course of action--one that includes reinstating slavery and segregating the local high school--destined to bring national attention. These outrageous events land him with a law suit heard by the Supreme Court, the latest in a series of cases revolving around the thorny issue of race in America. The Sellout showcases a comic genius at the top of his game. It challenges the most sacred tenets of the U.S. Constitution, urban life, the civil rights movement, the father-son relationship, and the holy grail of racial equality--the black Chinese restaurant"--
From Library Staff
Black Voices Book Group meets Thursday, September 14 at 7 pm in the Princeton Room.
From the critics
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The N-word (Skip this if you find the word offensive:)
“This is serious. Brother Mark Twain uses the ‘n-word’ 219 times. That’s .68 ‘n-words’ per page in toto.” “If you ask me, Mark Twain didn’t use the word ‘nigger’ enough,” I mumbled. With my mouth filled with at least four of America’s favorite cookies, I don’t think anyone understood me. I wanted to say more. Like, why blame Mark Twain because you don’t have the patience and courage to explain to your children that the “n-word” exists and that during the course of their sheltered little lives they may one day be called a “nigger” or, even worse, deign to call somebody else a “nigger.” No one will ever refer to them as “little black euphemisms,” so welcome to the American lexicon—Nigger! ...
Tons of quotes in goodreads already. Herein is a subset collection of personal interest:
And if you follow the three-inch-wide stripe out of the waiting room, you’ll crash through two sets of double doors, ... , and then down three flights of filthy unswept stairs until you come to a dingy inner vestibule lit by a dim red bulb. There, the painted line pitchforks into three prongs, each tine leading to the threshold of a pair of unmarked, identical double doors. The first set of doors leads to a back alley, the second to the morgue, and the third to a bank of soda pop and junk-food vending machines. I didn’t solve the racial and class inequalities in health care, but I’m told patients who travel down the brown-black road are more proactive. That when their names are finally called, the first thing they say to the attending physician is “Doctor, before you treat me, I need to know one thing. Do you give a fuck about me? I mean, do you really give a fxck?”
Part 1 of 2 on "Separate but Equal:"
Black people don’t even talk about race. Nothing’s attributable to color anymore. It’s all “mitigating circumstances.” The only people discussing “race” with any insight and courage are loud middle-aged white men who romanticize the Kennedys and Motown, well-read open-minded white kids like the tie-dyed familiar sitting next to me in the Free Tibet and Boba Fett T-shirt, a few freelance journalists in Detroit, and the American hikikomori who sit in their basements pounding away at their keyboards composing measured and well-thought-out responses to the endless torrent of racist online commentary. So thank goodness for MSNBC, Rick Rubin, the Black Guy at The Atlantic, Brown University, and the beautiful Supreme Court Justice from the Upper West Side, who, leaning coolly into her microphone, has finally asked the first question that makes any sense:
Part 2 of 2 on "Separate but Equal:"
“I think we’ve established the legal quandary here as to whether a violation of civil rights law that results in the very same achievement these heretofore mentioned statutes were meant to promote, yet have failed to achieve, is in fact a breach of said civil rights. What we must not fail to remember is that ‘separate but equal’ was struck down, not on any moral grounds, but on the basis that the Court found that separate can never be equal. And at a minimum, this case suggests we ask ourselves not if separate were indeed equal, but what about ‘separate and not quite equal, but infinitely better off than ever before.’ ...
Racism is not just about black:
I remember the day after the black dude was inaugurated, Foy Cheshire, proud as punch, driving around town in his coupe, honking his horn and waving an American flag. He wasn’t the only one celebrating; the neighborhood glee wasn’t O. J. Simpson getting acquitted or the Lakers winning the 2002 championship, but it was close. Foy drove past the crib and I happened to be sitting in the front yard husking corn. “Why are you waving the flag?” I asked him. “Why now? I’ve never seen you wave it before.” He said that he felt like the country, the United States of America, had finally paid off its debts. “And what about the Native Americans? What about the Chinese, the Japanese, the Mexicans, the poor, the forests, the water, the air, the fxcking California condor? When do they collect?” I asked him.
And like that black president, you’d think that after two terms of looking at a dude in a suit deliver the State of the Union address, you’d get used to square watermelons, but somehow you never do.
That the popularity of the spicy tuna roll and a black American president were to white male domination what the smallpox blankets were to Native American existence.
Here, in America, “integration” can be a cover-up. “I’m not racist. My prom date, second cousin, my president is black (or whatever).” The problem is that we don’t know whether integration is a natural or an unnatural state. Is integration, forced or otherwise, social entropy or social order?
“Remember those photos of the black president and his family walking across the White House lawn arm-in-arm. Within those fxcking frames at that instant, and in only that instant, there’s no fxcking racism.”
Colored in Hollywood:
In 1933 ... he debuted as the wailing, abandoned Native Baby Boy in the original King Kong. He went on to survive that near Skull Island stomping and has since specialized in portraying black boys from the ages of eight to eighty, including most notably in Black Beauty—Stable Boy (uncredited), War of the Worlds—Paper Boy (uncredited), Captain Blood—Cabin Boy (uncredited), Charlie Chan Joins the Klan—Bus Boy (uncredited). Every film shot in Los Angeles between 1937 and 1964—Shoeshine Boy (uncredited). Other credits include various roles as Messenger Boy, Bell Boy, Bus Boy, Pin Boy, Pool Boy, House Boy, Box Boy, Copy Boy, Delivery Boy, Boy Toy (stag film), Errand Boy, and token Aerospace Engineer Boy in the Academy Award–winning film Apollo 13.
There’s a reason there ain’t no black Jonathan Winters, John Candy, W. C. Fields, John Belushi, Jackie Gleason, and Roseanne Barr ... , because a large truly funny black person would scare the bejeezus out of America.
Part 1 of 2, an example of those lengthy sentences on a litany of racial surveillances:
But as even the most cursory of those early annual inspections by the California Department of Food and Agriculture bore out, to call 205 Bernard Avenue, that two-acre, just-this-side-of-lunar-surface fertile parcel of land in the most infamous ghetto in Los Angeles County with its hollowed-out 1973 Winnebago Chieftain motor home for a barn, a dilapidated-overcrowded-Section-8-henhouse-topped-by-a-weathervane-so-rusted-in-place-that-the-Santa-Ana-winds-El-Niño-and-the-’83-tornado-couldn’t-move-it,
Part 2 of 2, an example of those lengthy sentences on a litany of racial surveillances:
medfly-infested-two-tree-lemon-grove, three horses, four pigs, a two-legged goat with shopping-cart wheels for back hooves, twelve stray cats, one cow herd of livestock, and the ever-present cumulonimbus cloud of flies that circled the inflatable “fishing” pond of liquefied swamp gas and fermented rat shit that I pulled out of foreclosure on the very same day my dad decided to tell the undercover police officer Edward Orosco to “move his piece o’ shit Ford Crown Victoria and stop blocking the goddamn intersection!” with funds borrowed against what the courts would later determine to be a $2 million settlement for gross miscarriage of justice, to call that unsubsidized tract of inner-city Afro-agrarian ineptitude a “farm” would be to push the limits of literality.
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