MLA Platinum Award Press Release

Excerpt from Slumberland by Paul Beatty, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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A Novel

by Paul Beatty

Slumberland by Paul Beatty X
Slumberland by Paul Beatty
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  • First Published:
    Jun 2008, 256 pages
    Aug 2009, 256 pages


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Book Reviewed by:
Amy Reading
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About this Book

Print Excerpt

“Who is this?”

“The Magnum Opus.”

They’re Southern California, sprawling, hazy, fickle, as underground as a rock group that sold twenty thousand records could be.The critics hail groups like the Smashing Pumpkins and Pearl Jam as the purveyors of the new rock ’n’ roll, choosing heroin vapidity over depth, haircuts over musicianship, head-to-toe white-boy pallor over a Mexican/black/American/guapo–politic band whose music has nothing to do with being Mexican, American, black, or handsome. High-pitched and just this side of screechy and that side of cogent, the vocals hydroplane over the melody.

“They’re good,” the Nigerian says.

“They are good,” I wanted to say, “but two nights ago, not so far from where you’re standing now, me and the greatest musician you’ve never heard of played two minutes and forty-seven seconds of musical perfection as timeless as the hydrogen atom and Saturday Night Live. A beat so perfect as to render musical labels null and void. A melody so transcendental that blackness has officially been declared passé. Finally, us colored folk will be looked upon with blithe indifference, not erotized pity or the disgust of Freudian projection. It’s what we’ve claimed we always wanted, isn’t it? To be judged ‘not by the color of our skins, but by the content of our character’? Dude, but what we threw down was the content not of character, but out of character. It just happened to be of indeterminate blackness and funkier than a motherfucker.”

Excerpted from Slumberland by Paul Beatty Copyright © 2006 by Paul Beatty. Excerpted by permission of Bloomsbury USA. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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