on March 3rd 2015
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Set in California
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 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.
Born in the "agrarian ghetto" of Dickens--on the southern outskirts of Los Angeles--the narrator of The Sellout resigns himself to the fate of lower-middle-class Californians: "I'd die in the same bedroom I'd grown up in, looking up at the cracks in the stucco ceiling that've been there since '68 quake." Raised by a single father, a controversial sociologist, he spent his childhood as the subject in racially charged psychological studies. He is led to believe that his father's pioneering work will result in a memoir that will solve his family's financial woes, but when his father is killed in a police shoot-out, he realizes there never was a memoir.
Fueled by this deceit and the general disrepair of his hometown, the narrator sets out to right another wrong: Dickens has literally been removed from the map to save California from further embarrassment. Enlisting the help of the town's most famous resident--the last surviving Little Rascal, Hominy Jenkins--he initiates the most outrageous action conceivable: reinstating slavery and segregating the local high school, which lands him in the Supreme Court.
Have you ever read a book and thought the whole time, “I am way too white to be able to review this book” while laughing out loud at the story?
In a forgotten agriculturally zoned area of Los Angeles, Mr. Me as gotten himself a slave. He doesn’t want one but Hominy Jenkins grew up as a child actor playing the most racist roles imaginable and thinks that being a slave won’t that much of a change. Me isn’t sure about this since Hominy is only willing to work a few hours a day and is fairly useless at best. He’s also wracking up bills at the local S & M dungeon because Hominy insists on being beaten and Me won’t do it himself. The beatings have to happen though because anytime Hominy decides he isn’t being treated badly enough he stands on a box in the front yard and tries to sell himself to passersby.
Me was homeschooled by his sociologist father, who had a lot of very bizarre theories on child rearing. He was also known locally as the “n—– whisperer” for his ability to talk black people out of suicide or acts of violence. His other claim to fame is starting a philosophical society at the donut shop that continues after his death.
This book is proudly not politically correct. It discusses “weren—–” – black people who visit poor black neighborhoods occasionally to bump up their credibility and then flee back to their suburban homes. It maintains that every Californian since the first Native Americans who heard missionaries ringing bells early on Sunday morning, agrees that there are too many Mexicans. If you are the type of reader to be offended by things like this, avoid this book. Otherwise, read it and let it sink in. This is one that you read more for the insights you gain as you read instead of reading for the overall plot.