Paul Beatty, Author . Bloomsbury $24.99 (243p) ISBN 978-1-59691-240-3

The narrator of Beatty’s late ’80s picaresque, Ferguson W. Sowell—aka DJ Darky—is so attuned to sound that he claims to have a “phonographic memory.” Ferguson, who does porno film scores for the money in L.A., has a cognoscenti’s delight in jazz, and he’s close to obsessed with Charles Stone, aka “the Schwa,” a musician who apparently disappeared into East Germany in the ’60s. Ferguson receives an already-scored tape whose soundtrack is so rich and strange and “transformative” that it must be by Schwa. Ferguson is soon on his way to Slumberland, a bar in West Berlin to which he sources the tape. He arrives just in time to experience the sexual allure black men exercise on Cold War Berliners, and stays long enough to watch the city’s culture fall apart after the fall of the Wall. With its acerbic running commentary on race, sex and Cold War culture, the latest from Beatty, author of Tuff and editor of The Anthology of African American Humor , contains flashes of absurdist brilliance in the tradition of William Burroughs and Ishmael Reed. But the plot seems little more than an excuse to set up a number of comic routines, denying the story a driving, unifying plot. (July)

Reviewed on: 03/17/2008
Release date: 06/01/2008
Genre: Fiction
Open Ebook - 256 pages - 978-1-60819-649-4
Paperback - 243 pages - 978-1-59691-241-0
Downloadable Audio - 978-1-4561-2923-1
Paperback - 243 pages - 978-1-84655-242-7
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