Wednesday, January 12, 2005

#50

I've decided to jump on the bandwagon and take the Fifty Book challenge. For those who don't know, it's more of a personal challenge, to read 50 books in 365 days. There's no real reward, other than the obvious fun of reading a lot of books. I'll be keeping track of them here, and since I'm already behind, I should get started.

Book #50: Mumbo Jumbo, by Ishmael Reed

I've read this book before (hay, it's not against the rules to reread books! At least, I don't think it is...) Frankly, I used to like it a lot more than I did this time. It still has some fun, jazzy prose and I like the basic idea: that the spirit of dance is sweeping across 1920's America and an secret society of uptight Whites is trying to stamp it out while a group of Black Harlem Voodoo gurus are trying to find a way to encourage it. Along they way they liberate primitive art from museums and ship it back to where it belongs and thwart a 1000 year old Templar Librarian in the process.

What does it in though, is Mr. Reed's sometimes hamfisted expository dialogue. Reading three page long monologues about the evils of western civilization and how its done the African people wrong is OK. If you like that sort of thing. And I admit, I have my anti-western civilization sentiments but blaming it solely on White men is about as oversimplified as completely ignoring Black culture because it wasn't made by white people. And there is a healthy dose of self parody involved but it just didn't have the same punch it did the first time I read it. A-

Book #49 will be Titus Groan, by Mervyn Peake. This is a long one and could take a while so I'll probably tackle something else in the mean time, and get back to this one periodically.

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