What a treat it was to read Colson Whitehead’s new book Harlem Shuffle. It is the best trip I have taken during the last year. I did not actually “shuffle” around Harlem in the early 1960s, as that would have included using my feet, but I spent time riding on a truck bed, sometimes accompanied by furniture, other times dead bodies. The book is a crime story, and Whitehead is a fantastic storyteller. And he is also a great historian, so on this truck bed I learned a lot about the history of New York. Many of the historic events do not seem old but could have been written today—that is Whitehead’s excellent way of sending a message. In the beginning the music is wonderful—the jazz streaming out from the theaters and bars—but soon the sound of business deals grows louder. The driver of the truck, a salesman named Ray Carney, runs into new events and surprises each time he turns a corner, never knowing which choices are good, bad, neither, or both—and I never knew what to expect on the next page of the book. Ray and his family, friends, and enemies are all real persons—they could be your relatives, friends, or unfriends. You feel empathy or dislike towards them, and you really want to know what the future holds for Ray. (He does have a new car at the end of the book.) Colson Whitehead leaves you with mysteries to wonder about, and you suspect that Ray will continue to never know the correct way to go, or what temptation is too great to resist.
—Lottie, a customer of Madison Books, Seattle, WA.
The store describes Lottie as “a regular customer who we know to be a veteran reader with excellent taste.”
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