Slumberland

Slumberland

by Paul Beatty

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Overview

Critical darling Paul Beatty's highly original, widely praised novel of race, identity, and underground music.

After creating the perfect beat, DJ Darky goes in search of Charles Stone, a little know avant-garde jazzman, to play over his sonic masterpiece. His quest brings him to a recently unified Berlin, where he stumbles through the city's dreamy streets ruminating about race, sex, love, Teutonic gods, the prevent defense, and Wynton Marsalis in search of his artistic - and spiritual - other.

Ferocious, bombastic, and laugh-out-loud funny, Slumberland is vintage Paul Beatty and belongs on the shelf next to Jonathan Lethem, Colson Whitehead, and Junot Diaz.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781436170192
Publisher: Recorded Books, LLC
Publication date: 11/24/2008
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 1.25(h) x 9.00(d)

About the Author

Paul Beatty is author of four novels, Slumberland, Tuff, The White Boy Shuffle, and The Sellout, which won the 2016 Man Booker Prize. He has also written two books of poetry: Big Bank Take Little Bank and Joker, Joker, Deuce. He was the editor of Hokum: An Anthology of African-American Humor. He lives in New York City.

Customer Reviews

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Slumberland 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
cloggiedownunder More than 1 year ago
“The Schwa ruffled the pages of the book over his pant seam, and the resulting sound rivaled that of the best Max Roach brushwork. I nearly fainted. He lifted the book to his mouth and played chapter seven like a diatonic harmonica; blowing and drawing on the pages like leaves of grass in the hands of Pan. Who knew a Signet paperback was in the key of D? For the more percussive sounds he rapped the spine on his elbow, thumb drummed page corners, pizzicatoed the preface, flutter tongued the denouement and bariolaged the blurbs.” Slumberland is the third novel by Man Booker Prize-winning American author, Paul Beatty. Ferguson W. Sowell, aka DJ Darky has a talent for DJing, and says “I compensate for a lack of skills and Negritude with a surfeit of good taste and a record collection that I like to think is to DJing what the Louvre is to painting.” He has spent months trying to compose his perfect beat, and it’s almost there: in the parlance, it is “presque parfait”. The Beard Scratchers, members of his record pool, agree. After much analysis, they hit upon the missing element: it needs to be ratified by their ultimate beat break, the elusive Charles Stone, aka the Schwa. Coincidentally (or perhaps not quite?), Ferguson comes across a porn tape sound-tracked with music certain to be the Schwa’s. The trail leads to East Germany and, with some help from the Beard Scratchers, Ferguson finds himself engaged as a Jukebox-Sommelier at the Slumberland Bar in Berlin. It is a Berlin about to tear down its Wall, and Ferguson is somewhat surprised to find that others share his love of the Schwa’s music: he is assisted in his quest by a bartender, a journalist, a Stasi agent, a pair of German negro sisters, and, eventually, the clientele of the Slumberland. Through a number of quirky characters and some crazy, laugh-out-loud events, Beatty examines the experience of the negro in Germany. One World have produced editions of Beatty’s four novel with themed covers and this one has LP discs on the cover. A knowledge and appreciation of jazz is bound to enhance the enjoyment of this story, but is not essential, because the plot and characters are strong enough to draw the reader in. The musical descriptions certainly make the reader wish to hear the Schwa’s music. There’s plenty of wit and black humour in Beatty’s lyrical prose. Original, incisive and funny.
marcyjill on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is a merciless satire. It is hard for me to say if it is good or bad since as a whole I don't enjoy the genre, but so many people who like satire seemed to really like it so I guess it is just lost on me. There is certainly some great writing, but overall I didn't find it funny or clever and then that left me feeling kind of dumb which was not such a good feeling. I think if you loved Confederacy of Dunces, this is a book for you. If you didn't love it (like me) you should pass.
lriley on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Paul Beatty is a very talented writer and the elements backdropping the plot behind his new novel 'Slumberland' are very intriguing. On a quest to find a lost jazz musician icon--last known to be on the wrong side of the Berlin Wall-DJ Darky who spins records at hip hop clubs in Los Angeles takes up residence in a jazz club in West Berlin right about the time that the Berlin Wall comes down. Along with a new troop or posse of mostly West Berliner music enthusiasts and one former East German Stasi agent the good DJ finally tracks him down and agrees to get him to cooperate on some of his own musical projects. Part of the appeal of Beatty's very creative writing is a finely tuned comedic sense. He does have a problem of maybe relying on it too much and getting off the track at times. For instance the first 20 or so pages I was wondering whether the book was going to be entirely a kind of stand-up comic routine. Beatty can be laugh out loud funny and the way he skewers black/white commonplace prejudices (particularly the more unconscious kinds) with his almost mordantly objective humor--though he has a light touch--is something I wish other writers were better at. All in all it's a good book though one is left with the sense that Beatty is capable of much more-- or at least that this book could have been realized more fully. IMO he has the talent to become a major American writer by digging a little further. Time will tell whether that happens or not but here's to hoping he does.
goodinthestacks on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I received this as part of the Early Reviewer program. I've heard good things about this book and this author and was looking forward to reading it. I thought the premise seemed interesting and I was hoping it would be a good read.The book was fine, but that is all it was. I felt the prose was intentionally pretentious and the plot was threadbare, if it was there at all. It was OK, but maybe I was disappointed because I was expecting something better.Perhaps if I was in a different state of mind, I would have enjoyed it more, but it all seemed frivolous to me.
browngirl on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Paul Beatty has written a really scathing and hilarious tale about a Black guy, who goes by DJ Darky, on his journey of creating the perfect beat. The most significant part of this journey involves him going to Berlin to get validation from his musical hero, jazz musician Charles Stone, who he and his friends- The Beard Scratchers- have affectionately dubbed "The Schwa". This novel presents ideas of race, culture, and music with language that's lyrical and cheeky. From the opening page, DJ Darky declares that Blackness is over and while reflecting on years of tanning says: "My complexion has darkened somewhat; it's still a nice nonthreatening sitcom Negro brown, but now there's a pomegranate-purple undertone that in certain light gives me a more villainous sheen." Brilliant!I was laughing out loud from just the first few pages. This is rare that a book invokes emotion in me that's evident. This has to be my favorite book thus far for the year. That this book's focal point is music and the level of music snobbery by the host of such thoughtful characters was so on point for me as I can be quite a music snob. Slumberland is like your favorite movie from which you love to quote every other line. Yes, this book has too many lines I want to quote. I'm glad I held on to Beatty's White Boy Shuffle even though I couldn't get into it on my first attempt many years ago. I think I have more appreciative eyes towards his writing now.
Dogberryjr on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Paul Beatty's novel Slumberland may leave you with more questions than answers, but somehow, that's just fine. Set in Berlin just as the Wall was coming down, Slumberland explores race, bigotry, music, fame, obscurity and about a dozen other topics through DJ Darky, Schallplattenunterhalter extraordinaire. DJ Darky, a young Los Angelino, heads to Berlin to locate a mysterious jazz musician who has been somehow forgotten behind the Iron Curtain, because only he- Charles Stone, AKA the Schwa- can complete Darky's "perfect beat," a groove so amazing, it can breaks hearts and mend them, make a man see God and simultaneously question His existence.Equal parts Confederacy of Dunces, High Fidelity, Big Fish, and some other stuff I haven't read yet, Slumberland is funny, irreverent and substantive.
squeakjones on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Paul Beatty has a unique voice - part urban poet, part wise-crackin' back of the room class clown, and he manages to do a decent job fusing the two together for Slumberland, about a musicphiliac who travels to Germany in search of an elusive musician who's score speak to the man's soul. Along the way Beatty plays with Black stereotypes, the nature of music and sex, and a host of other things. It's kind of scattered and more than a little dis-jointed, but I think that was intentional. For me, I had to look through a lot to get to the little nuggets I enjoyed, so this may prove to be a treasure to someone more attuned to its rythms.Not a bad novel by a longshot, but it definitely needs to fit your tastes.
gwalklin on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Not quite finished with this book yet, but I'm liking it so far. Falls into the trap of being a bit of narcissistic self-loathing narrator who-is-relentlessly-clever, which I feel like I've read over and over again, but at least this book is full of charm and hilarity to compensate. Beatty writes fantastically well about hip-hop and jazz and music in general: the enthusiasm just jumps off the page. The music is elusive but palatable in the text, and totally in a good way. I may end up bumping up my review to four stars if the book keeps up the, well, beats.
saltypepper on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Before I say anything else, I should say that Beatty's White Boy Shuffle is one of my favorite books ever, so I was surprised to have as hard a time getting into this as I did. However, after a couple of false starts, I ended up finishing it in one sitting. Beatty can riff about pretty much anything and make me laugh, and he often does in this book. His voice and his humor are always the strongest aspects of his work. Slumberland is shorter on plot than White Boy Shuffle though, and so while I enjoyed it I didn't love it as much as the other. He's still on my must-read list, though.
Guillo More than 1 year ago
Amazing amazing amazing book. A racial journey that shows to its reader that the ideas of segregation and separation still exist. Although we might turn the other way Beatty makes sure that we stare straight at the truth in this novel.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
browngirl More than 1 year ago
Paul Beatty has written a really scathing and hilarious tale about a Black guy, who goes by DJ Darky, on his journey of creating the perfect beat. The most significant part of this journey involves him going to Berlin to get validation from his musical hero, jazz musician Charles Stone, who he and his friends- The Beard Scratchers- have affectionately dubbed "The Schwa". This novel presents ideas of race, culture, and music with language that's lyrical and cheeky. From the opening page, DJ Darky declares that Blackness is over and while reflecting on years of tanning says: "My complexion has darkened somewhat; it's still a nice nonthreatening sitcom Negro brown, but now there's a pomegranate-purple undertone that in certain light gives me a more villainous sheen." Brilliant! I was laughing out loud from just the first few pages. This is rare that a book invokes emotion in me that's evident. This has to be my favorite book thus far for the year. That this book's focal point is music and the level of music snobbery by the host of such thoughtful characters was so on point for me as I can be quite a music snob. Slumberland is like your favorite movie from which you love to quote every other line. Yes, this book has too many lines I want to quote. I'm glad I held on to Beatty's White Boy Shuffle even though I couldn't get into it on my first attempt many years ago. I think I have more appreciative eyes towards his writing now.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago