A Brief History of a Book

A Brief History of Seven KillingsI’m only browsing.

My daughter is in the Manga section looking for new issues. I go bide my time in the English language section.

The image of vinyl catches my attention; the title, “A Brief History of Seven Killings“, peaks my interest; the laurel, Man Booker Prize 2015, makes me pick it up.

The blurbs have context. One makes a comparison to David Foster Wallace. More laurels: 23 Book of the Year lists.

I notice the price is reasonable and, on the way to page one, I remark to myself that it’s about time that they realized that it’s no longer difficult to get foreign language books cheaply.

Dead people never stop talking.”

I’m biting.

But I have a resolution, one less book in my backlog before I’m allowed to buy another one.

But the price is reasonable. And I’m hooked.

It joins the three Mangas at the checkout.

The second narrator takes a little getting used to. Jamaican written using standard spelling. The rhythm starts to come across. Who said you need to phonetic spelling to give voice to a patois?

I settle into the book slowly. It takes time to get to know the cast of characters and their voices. There’s a lot going on. Literary, musical, cultural references. Gay Talese, Hunter S. Thompson, and Kitty Kelley on one page. What I don’t get, I look up.

I’d never heard about Slowhand’s drunken rant. I watch him talk about it on Youtube and jump to conclusions about which way he voted in the last election.

Elections. They’re the loci for a modern history lesson. A history that is not the story but the backstory. I learn enough about Jamaica to see I know nothing about Jamaica.

How long before I read the book a second time?

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