We might be inclined to fingerpoint at those who hand out literary awards when books about the "black experience" take home the prize, as is the case with Jason Mott's fifth novel HELL OF A BOOK. But some of the details within the interview portion of the article suggest it would be wise to withhold any pre-emptive tirades about the "woke"...as it's clear from the description of HELL OF A BOOK's contents that it is too weird a book to be merely "woke" as the term seems to have been processed into a form of inchoate backlash.
While HELL OF A BOOK is not a noir tale, its narrative approach is the logical outgrowth of the author's love of and immersion in film noir. Some on-line reviews of the book argue that Mott took the process too far; each reader will have to make that assessment for themselves. As a kaleidoscopic rendering of the current state of the African-American experience, it seems destined to take narrative risks in order to collide its readers with the jumble of the world it is displaying. Mott's own words caution us from seeing HELL OF A BOOK as merely hellish.
Given the literary ambitions that are increasingly on display in the NC e-zine, here is another chance for the editors there to move beyond "flavor of the month" celebrity selections; it would seem to represent the opportunity to move past the increasingly hackneyed use of the "five favorite noirs" format. Of course, we might be disappointed by Mott's selections--but he might inject something fresh into the process...and that would be most welcome.
You are urged to give HELL OF A BOOK a chance to work its helter-skelter, non-linear ways upon you. It's not as dark and psychopathic as Thompson, or as seedy as Goodis, and certainly not as elegiac as Walter Mosley, but there's an edge there that might just transcend your expectations of "yet another novel about the African-American condition."