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I'd had Jason Mott's novel, "Hell Of A Book," on my to-read list since summer when it debuted but kept putting off reading it because I thought a book about being Black -- especially being a Black man -- in America, race relations, and police violence would be sad, difficult, and draining. What I found, though, is one of the best books that I've read this year... a masterful, comic, heartbreaking, and brilliant novel justly awarded the 2021 National Book Award for Fiction.Reminiscent of Ralph Ellison's "Invisible Man" and Hunter S. Thompson and Ralph Steadman's "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" but wholly original and imaginative, Mott's novel is a story of race, families, imagination, loss, racism and racial trauma, fantasy, violence, and justice.The main character is the (unnamed) author of "Hell Of A Book," a Black man who finds himself on a Groundhog Day-like book tour where every city looks the same, every interviewer asks him the same questions, and he spends his travels getting or staying drunk. He has a 'condition' that he describes as an overactive imagination. In short, he has a hard time distinguishing reality from imaged characters and conversations. A parallel character is Soot, The Kid, a young Black boy in the American South. His story is about the injustice and fear that comes with growing up Black in the U.S. I don't want to write too much and there are no real spoilers in what I've written.This goes on both my 'Best Of' and 'Favorite' lists... just an outstanding novel.Wow, two great books to close out the year. Still time for one or two more? Snowing here (first of the year), so maybe.
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