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Screamin' Jay Hawkins' All-Time Greatest…

Screamin' Jay Hawkins' All-Time Greatest Hits: A Novel

by Mark Binelli

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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This is a rather experimental fictional biography of one of the world's biggest storytellers and most unknowable musicians, Screaming Jay Hawkins. Binelli puts his journalism background to good use and the known facts of Hawkins' life shine through as we move through childhood, military service, years on the road, brief stardom, jail time, and obscurity (not necessarily in that order). The tone is pitched just right for a biographical novel on Rock and Roll's own wild man, and the change in tone and time and rhythm match up to the music of the man. I liked this even more than I thought I would -- it's a risky genre that could have gone very wrong, but in this case went very right. ( )
  kristykay22 | May 10, 2018 |
A fictionalized biography of Screamin' Jay Hawkins (1929-2000), the singer famous for the legendary song I Put a Spell on You. An early interest in opera may have sparked the idea for his presentation of the song by entering the stage in a coffin carried by six white-gloved pallbearers. Although choppy and not particularly well-written, Binelli does a decent job of depicting the life of this weird performer.

My daughter-in-law passed this one on to me otherwise it would not have come to my attention. ( )
  VivienneR | Aug 31, 2017 |
Hawkins, best known for his hit "I Put A Spell On You" and his witch doctor stage get-up, was also a man who loved to tell tales about himself. He claimed to have been raised by a Blackfoot tribe, to have served in WWII at just fourteen years old, to have fathered 75 illegitimate children. Binelli takes these outlandish tales and creates realistic stories that layer into a man who led a remarkably full life. He meets other musical greats, along with getting career advice from Stan Freed, who takes Hawkins coffin shopping for his new act. ( )
  mstrust | Dec 6, 2016 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Interesting little book.
I remember the song, "I put a spell on you", and how the singer arose out of a coffin on stage, but did not know much about Jay Hawkins. This book tells of his life, in a slightly different form than the usual biography.
And he had so many illegitimate children that they held a reunion to get to meet each other!
  patmil | Aug 11, 2016 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Jalacy Hawkins, aka Screaming Jay Hawkins, was born in Cleveland Ohio, in 1929. He is known, for exactly one classic song: “I Put a Spell on You”.

This novel, looks at his life, which is filled with the epic mythmaking, Hawkins created for himself, along with his outrageous, stage show. He would arrive on stage, in a coffin, with a bone clamped to his nose.

This is an interesting little book, but it has a choppy narrative and it never quite connects, the way I hoped it hoped it would. If this brief summary, holds any interest for you, give it a try. ( )
  msf59 | Jul 17, 2016 |
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"The R & B wildman Screamin' Jay Hawkins only had a single hit, the classic "I Put a Spell On You, " and was often written off as a clownish novelty act -- or worse, an offense to his race -- but his myth-making was legendary. In [this] novel, Mark Binelli embraces the man and the legend to create a hilarious, tragic, fantastical portrait of this unlikeliest of protagonists. Hawkins saw his life story as a wild picaresque, and Binelli's novel follows suit, tackling the subject in a dazzling collage-like style."--… (more)

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