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May 9, 2015 3:32 PM   Subscribe

“African Americans,” he wrote in one of his section introductions for Hokum, “like any other Americans, are an angry people with fragile egos. Humor is vengeance. Sometimes you laugh to keep from crying. Sometimes you laugh to keep from shooting … black folk are mad at everybody, so duck, because you’re bound to be in someone’s line of fire.” Paul Beatty on Satire, Racism and Writing for "Weirdos", from the Paris Review.
posted by chavenet (6 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
From Paul Beatty's novel The Sellout:
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. All that's left is the bill for a drive-thru funeral. 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.
posted by Fizz at 3:42 PM on May 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

Thanks for the post--I added Beatty to my list of authors to look for a few weeks ago. I'm looking forward to reading his novels.
posted by librosegretti at 5:53 PM on May 9, 2015

Do you think white writers write about race in the same way that black writers do?

I think they do. Maybe not explicitly. I’m trying to think of a book—but almost anything will do, really—think of whatever’s number fifteen on the best-seller list now, written by a white writer. It has nothing to do with blackness or Asianness or Latinoness, or whatever. I think that’s as much a comment on race as anything else, whether the writer realizes it or not. And the problem is we don’t think about it like that. We just think they’re writing about the common experience, we think it’s just the way the world is.


And The Sellout sounds really good.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 6:09 PM on May 9, 2015 [2 favorites]

Stall Me Out

why you no rhythm

afraid of women asexual pseudo intellectual
bald mt. fuji shaped head

no booty havin big nose
size 13 feet pigeon toed crook footed

taco bell burrito supreme eatin
day dreamin

no jump shot can’t dunk
comic book readin
nutrition needin

knock kneed sap sucker
non drivin
anti fashion
constantly depressed clumsy no money mutherfucker

take your weak ass poems
and go back to los angeles

-Beatty, from Joker, Joker, deuce.

I really like his work. I read JJD twice the day I got it. Really didn't care for the slam scene until I read him. Of those younger poets writing in the early 90s, He, Mark Levine and Larissa Szpourluk stand out.
posted by clavdivs at 6:42 PM on May 9, 2015 [9 favorites]

I discovered Beatty earlier this year. The White Boy Shuffle is as hilarious as it is awesome.
posted by OHenryPacey at 6:43 PM on May 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

I'd not heard of him before this post, so thanks! Looking forward to reading his books.
posted by dejah420 at 9:48 PM on May 9, 2015

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