*Starred Review* Beatty, author of the deservedly highly praised The White Boy Shuffle (1996), here outdoes himself and possibly everybody else in a send-up of race, popular culture, and politics in today's America. From the opening pages, in which the narrator is summoned to appear before the U.S. Supreme Court through a mechanism not unlike Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes, Beatty hits on all cylinders in a darkly funny, dead-on-target, elegantly written satire in the tradition of Ishmael Reed and Percival Everett. The narrator, like his social-psychologist father, is a "nigger whisperer," skilled in talking down crazed blacks dangling babies from windows or jumping onto train tracks. He is devoted to restoring the negated agrarian city of Dickens in Southern California, where he was born and raised, and then resegregating it. Also the anthologist of the African American humor compendium Hokum, Beatty, though unable to sustain the intense comic pitch throughout, joins the ranks not only of the contributors to that volume but also of the upper echelon of all American humorists. This is frequently laugh-out-loud funny and, in the way of the great ones, profoundly thought provoking. A major contribution. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.
Library Journal Reviews
Dickens, CA, is so embarrassing yet so inconsequential that it has disappeared from the map. One of its residents is Professor Mee, who teaches sociology at Riverside Community College. As a single parent, he homeschools his son while using him in a radical social science experiment with racial implications that might someday result in a profitable book. After Mee is killed in a police shoot-out, the son draws on what he has learned about sociology to launch a crusade that he hopes will put Dickens back on the map. To bring the town some national attention, he resorts to the shocking means of reinstituting slavery and segregation. While he seems to succeed, his actions ultimately bring him before the U.S. Supreme Court, which must consider the ramifications of the case. VERDICT Beatty (The White Boy Shuffle) creates a wicked satire that pokes fun at all that is sacred to life in the United States, from father-son dynamics right up to the Supreme Court. His story is full of the unexpected, resulting in absurd and hilarious drama.—Joanna Burkhardt, Univ. of Rhode Island Libs., Providence[Page 77]. (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.