Beatty's The Sellout is filled with inimitably quotable lines that are equally difficult to quote which is probably one of the points the book makes in the first place. And it's not solely due to that word which, no matter how often he repeats it, never loses its impact. Some words really do hold power and you can't always reclaim them for yourself. It's funny how often the words honest and truth get associated with descriptive terms like scathing, searing, blistering, withering. We shouldn't need a book to remind us of the obvious -- it's more painful and damaging in the long-term not to confront things directly for fear of offending. It isn't really turtles: it's Man of Steel and politics all the way down. Beatty isn't afraid to demonstrate any prejudice - Dickens: hella Mexicans. I liked what he had to say about the Irish too.
The Dum Dum Donut Intellectuals were hilarious - fuelled with too much ineffectual empty sugar and not enough Bushmills. I liked Marpessa and her dream of the flying bus, or at least her dream as viewed by the narrator. Poor Hominy and those appalling lost Little Rascals clips.
There isn't anything new or unknown as such in the book, it's more the way in which it's presented, "Contrary to the appellation, Whitey Week was actually a thirty-minute celebration of the wonders and contributions of the mysterious Caucasian race to the world of leisure. A moment of respite..." You'll have to read it for yourself to discover his definitions of Regular, Deluxe, and Super Deluxe Whiteness. (Not intending to trivialise, but I'd quite like to have a boat that I never use). There are multiple layers just in his descriptions of the apples and oranges alone. I'll never perceive agriculture or the Washington Monument in quite the same way again.
Due to the timing of reading this, I was reminded of Ghost in the Shell. It's something else that could only be a product of a particular place and alludes to a certain time in history. (Now I'm getting a tad too tactful Fawlty Towers). There are some parallels in how it deals with ethnicity and the past. A shame so many seemed determined to miss that allegory recently; so determined that they refused to watch or read any interpretation of it. The new film might not have been the best version, but at least it tried. It deserves a sequel.
Related to similar themes -- Ishiguro's The Buried Giant is another book I keep intending to read:
Sure we need diplomacy and tact, but we need more writers with a voice like Drax too. Beatty has that much in common with Basil Fawlty: some issues are too big and can only be dealt with via humour. Give it whatever label you like - satire, comedy/tragedy -- doesn't matter; not the best book I've ever read either, but it makes you think.
Oh, and what Jerry says - read Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath soonest.
Now I'm wondering - what is the best book you've ever read? (I only like easy questions ).