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The Sellout by Paul Beatty
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The Sellout

by Paul Beatty

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Showing 1-5 of 81 (next | show all)
I only read to chapter 4. I laughed a bit early on, but the language was too much for me. ( )
  Beth.Clarke | Jun 28, 2019 |
If you've read Paul Beatty, you know how he writes: smart, funny and dense, like a standup comedian doing a a particularly risky bit for hours at a time without pausing for breath. I like his stuff, but I can certainly understand why some people find it a bit overwhelming. There's echoes of his other books here, too: his story of a black SoCal neighborhood that was removed from city maps and one character's quixotic attempts to draw them again echoes the rebuilding on the Berlin Wall that took place in "Slumberland." It's off a piece, I think, with the author's ongoing argument for the separateness -- or, maybe, the uniqueness -- of the black experience. There's also, buried under all the jokes and wordplay, a long-form irony -- the absurd, unbelievable fact as a permanent condition of black American life -- and a genuine sadness.

"The Sellout" also stands apart from some of the Beatty I've read. For one, it's much, well, trippier. Its setting mixes up urban blight and rural abundance. It features a beautiful scene where the night crew of a Wendy's restaurant parties on a wayward city bus. As dense and nervy as it is, the author also allows himself to fall into a loping, pastoral rhythm in a few scenes. There's a lot of dope smoking going on in this novel, but I sort of began to wonder if Beatty hadn't been hitting some of the stuff himself. Despite the fact that the book's titled "The Sellout," it's more of a psychological study than a political narrative. The author's obsession with a surviving black actor from the "Little Rascals" theatrical shorts would seem an odd fixation, but I get the feeling the author's trying to conjure up media-aided archetypes from Black America's collective memory: the actor as Steppin Fechit, the main character's father as a much-mourned, distinctly masculine voice of conscience, various other characters who either have or haven't sacrificed some part of themselves in order to "make it" and the main character as a sort of haunted, struggling, slightly depressed everyman figure. The book's characters seem to recognize and accept most of these modes of being and certainly don't seem fazed by all the chaos that surrounds them. In any event, "The Sellout" is impressive, but the book moves so quickly I'm not sure that I caught everything, or that it did what it set out to do. Between all the satire and the spot-on one-liners, I think it did, though. Maybe I'll re-read it next year. ( )
  TheAmpersand | Apr 20, 2019 |
This was a tough read. It certainly picked up but the opening was relentlessly wordy and clever. It's an angry book, but the anger is diluted with humour which doesn't always work. It's hard to write funny and it's harder when the writing is deliberate and self-conscious. Not every beat hits and they they keep coming. Sentences with multiple clauses where the joke would have benefited from concision, from editing, from letting the reader do more of the work.

Weird that I read this so close to The Known World which deals with black slave owners. I was up for so much of what Beatty has to say about living post-racism, I just wish he had been able to say it without overwriting the urgency out of it. ( )
  asxz | Mar 13, 2019 |
I read most of “The Sellout”, by Paul Beatty, in one of its main settings-Long Beach, CA. This recent Man Booker Prize winner is a challenging satire that confronts race in America with humor, irreverence, and hyperbole. Brilliantly written but maintaining emotional distance, Beatty forces the reader to question everything- to think about it instead of just feeling about it. Breaking every American racial taboo, this book was uncomfortable to read and sometimes that is the whole point. ( )
  pdill8 | Mar 12, 2019 |
This book is hilarious, angry, touching, absurd, wistful, wry - it wrings out more emotions than you'd think possible in a satire. Brilliant, quotables lines on every page. At 277 pages it stretched out a little too thin for me, but not by much. ( )
  badube | Mar 6, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 81 (next | show all)
added by sgw160 | editNew York Review of Books, Darryl Pinckney (Dec 22, 2016)
 
But somehow, The Sellout isn't just one of the most hilarious American novels in years, it also might be the first truly great satirical novel of the century.
 

» Add other authors (5 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Paul Beattyprimary authorall editionscalculated
Bruce, ElizabethEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Onayemi, PrenticeNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For Althea Amrik Wasow
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This may be hard to believe, coming from a black man, but I've never stolen anything.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0374260508, Hardcover)

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.

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.

Fuelled 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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:03:37 -0400)

"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"--"A biting satire about a young man's isolated upbringing and the race trial that sends him to the Supreme Court"--… (more)

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