Tag Archives: Paul Beatty

The 10 Best Books of 2015

In the humble opinion of one of our editors…

1 2 3 4 5

See what we said about them:

Signs Preceding the End of the World by Yuri Herrera

Chelsea Girls by Eileen Myles

The Sellout by Paul Beatty

The Meursault Investigation by Kamel Daoud

I Am Sorry to Think I Have Raised a Timid Son by Kent Russell

Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh

Mort(e) by Robert Repino

Jillian by Halle Butler

Eve’s Hollywood by Eve Babitz

Making Nice by Matt Sumell

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The Race Pervert

The Sellout

FA review tag

Near the beginning of Jurassic Park, the scientist played by Laura Dern plunges her arms into a gigantic pile of triceratops shit. When I first saw this, I had a gut reaction: “Ew, no! Don’t touch that! It’s shit!” But as the scene goes on, Laura Dern makes it clear that her character is a professional. She studies shit for a living. This is her milieu. We viewers are—like the triceratops shit itself—in good hands.

The Sellout is a novel about racism. Huge, steaming, stinking piles of racism. Racism so ugly and insidious that you want to shiver and walk away. But as readers we are in good hands, because Paul Beatty is a professional—knowledgeable, passionate, and easygoing. Characters in Beatty’s novel call his protagonist a “race reactionary” and a “race pervert.” But you and I might call Beatty the world’s foremost connoisseur of racism.

The Sellout has a plot, which I will describe for you because plots are an important way to begin a conversation about a story, but honestly, the plot of The Sellout is a shambles. It’s a wreck. Scan any page of The Sellout and, if you’re lucky, you might find a couple of paragraphs with topic sentences that mention the overall plot. Everything else will be the kind of extended, wisecracking riff that has characterized Beatty’s fiction ever since his first foray into prose (he started out as a slam poetry champion) with The White Boy Shuffle. But with The Sellout, surely, Beatty’s style of back-talking his own story has found its apotheosis—if this novel were any more digressive it would crumble like the clumps of lint in your dryer.

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