A provocative debut novel about a young white chauffeur and his wealthy black employer, an NBA player-a twenty-first century inversion of what we've come to expect stories of race and class to look like, and a discomfiting portrait of envy and obsession
Ride Around Shining concerns the idle preoccupations, and later machinations, of a transplanted Portlander named Jess-a nobody from nowhere with a Master's degree and a gig delivering takeout. He parlays the latter, along with a few lies, into a job as a chauffeur for an up-and-coming Trail Blazer named Calyph West and his young wife, Antonia. Calyph is black and Antonia is white and Jess becomes fascinated, innocuously at first, by all they are that he is not. In striving to make himself indispensable to them, he causes Calyph to have a season-ending knee injury, then brings about the couple's estrangement, before positioning himself at last as their perverse savior.
In the tradition of The Talented Mr. Ripley, The Great Gatsby, and Harold Pinter's The Servant-not to mention a certain Shakespeare play about a creepy white dude obsessed with a black dude-Ride Around Shining tries to say the unsayable about white fixation on black culture, particularly black athletic culture, something so common in everyday life it has gone all but unaddressed.
ebook, 240 pages
Expected publication: August 5th 2014 by Harper
I received an advanced copy of this novel from the publisher Harper via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. The expected publication date is August 5, 2014.
I enjoy receiving ARC's as it is an opportunity to read stories by authors that are unknown to me as well as the opportunity to discover a story that may not have crossed my path otherwise. In most cases this pays off however unfortunately it was not the case with this story.
I just didn't get it. The synopsis describes the storyline as the white fixation on black culture however I just really didn't see that. What I saw was the character of Jess who really had no redeeming qualities and seemed fixated on destroying and meddling in the lives of the people who had more than him. There was a twisted sense of entitlement and greed that I never really understood where his motivation came from.
There were quite a few characters in the story of which none drew me in. I found the story lingered at points that seemed irrelevant or surplus and there was no real flow to it.
If I had to try to summarize the story I would say it was one of greed however I am not really sure that was the point of the whole thing. For such a short book I really had to work at it to get through it and it took me much longer than it should have.
While this was not for me I think this is one of those reads where people need to decide on their own. Perhaps someone else can see the brilliance behind the plot that I failed to discover.