Monday, August 10, 2015

A Quick Book Review - Slumberland

I'm reading a lot of books my brother has suggested, and honestly it's been hit or miss. To read his latest suggestion I actually had to activate the Kindle app on my tablet. This is something I had avoided doing for a long time, because I have an issue with Kindle, or Nook, or one of them. Whatever. In any case, my issue is that you don't actually own the books, but read them through a licensing agreement. Which sounds great until you realize it gives them the power to take the books back at any time, without your knowledge. I would say or consent, but we all know its somewhere in the 57-page agreement nobody reads, so whatever. But as a person who re-reads books all the time, sometimes three or four times, the idea of waking up one day and my books are gone just doesn't even feel right.

But I digress.

Slumberland. I wish I could find what the author was on when he wrote it, because the book reads like less like a story and more like the muttered recollections of someone fresh off a three day bender. At 7am and they are still half alseep and still half in the bag. While you putter around somebody's kitchen on a Thursday morning (Do the math.) While trying to conceive of a breakfast that includes chili powder, leftover dip, and pasta. While also trying to remember A)who these other four people are and B) whose house this is and C) whose underwear you have on. Meanwhile everyone is laughing and knows your name. The book feels like that.

What? That exact thing has never happened to you? Um, never-mind. Let's just say it's an odd book.

The hero, um, narrator, um...there's this guy, in a tanning salon. He's black, but he's in a tanning salon. He explains why eventually, but it's not important. Well, maybe it kinda is. Anyway he's produced what he and his sound collective guesses is the perfect piece of music, or so they think. So he, um, goes, tricks, he goes to Berlin, right, just trust me, and he's searching for this guy, this musician he had decided is the singular authority to validate his music. Only he's never met the guy, has no pictures and has no idea what he looks like. It's that kinda music. 

Beatty, the author,  falls into what I'm seeing as the new style....finding a single concept and drilling down to it's very bottom, then creating a story around it, as if to celebrate it. With Ready Player One, it was the 80's video games. With this it's music.

So, this guy ends up working at the Slumberland bar, this spot where German women pick up black guys as the guy who sets the musical tone for the place. He meets some interesting characters on his quest to find this musical guru, and is black in Germany. Seriously, that's a theme, being black. Look, the book flirts with a broad range of stuff, although it makes love to the author's diverse musical tastes, and covers things like bits of philosophy, a take on California, the government, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the modern record industry, pornography, fill in the blank here, something else, etc. It's hard to explain, without telling the whole story, or giving away the bits of the story that make the read interesting. 

Now, be aware, there is not a lot a story, something I only realized after a good bit of reading. It's mostly thoughts and extremely colorful description. Honestly, I could boil the actual story part down to three good paragraphs for Wikipedia. But Beatty takes what he has and tells it well, and as I said, he is so very, very descriptive. There are ramblings and tangents, asides and impressions and a host of other things that aren't really story, but give the story flavor. And a story without a flavor is just text.

This was a good read. Brisk, and occasionally a little convoluted, but good. Maybe you pick it up. Maybe I get another ice cream sandwich.  

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