Thursday, December 20, 2018

Booker Book #50: A long, drawn-out history of a bunch of killings

Well, the book is actually called A Brief History of Seven Killings, but my title is more realistic. Parts of James Marlon's book are excellent (for example, the chilling chapter told from the point of view of a man being buried alive), but I would not have missed parts of it at all.

The story is at first about an attempt on Bob Marley's life, which left him wounded but not dead on the eve of a peace concert; the narrative then expands to include drug gangs that made crack into big business in the US. The story is told from the points of view of myriad characters: not just the would-be killers and other gangsters, but also CIA agents in Jamaica, one of their Jamaican girlfriends, an American journalist, and even a ghost.

Perhaps as a woman I'm biased, but my favorite character is the girlfriend, who also once slept with The Singer, as he is known. She witnessed the attempt on him and spends the rest of the book fleeing and using false names. I like her persistence and cunning in the face of violence.

However, many of the other characters began to blur together for me. Nonetheless, I'm glad I finished the book, as some loose pieces came together at the end. And I learned a lot of Jamaican slang, in which the worst curse word is a term for menstrual pad!

Three little quotations:

"Jail is the ghetto man university."

"Peace can't happen when too much to gain in war."

"...the quickest way to not live at all is to take one day at a time."

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