"Ricky Rice is a middling hustler with a lingering junk habit, a bum knee, and a haunted mind. A survivor of a suicide cult, he scrapes by as a porter at a bus depot in Utica, New York, until one day a mysterious letter arrives, summoning him to enlist in a band of paranormal investigators comprised of former addicts and petty criminals, all of ...
"Ricky Rice is a middling hustler with a lingering junk habit, a bum knee, and a haunted mind. A survivor of a suicide cult, he scrapes by as a porter at a bus depot in Utica, New York, until one day a mysterious letter arrives, summoning him to enlist in a band of paranormal investigators comprised of former addicts and petty criminals, all of whom had at some point in their wasted lives heard what may have been the voice of God"--P.  of cover.
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May 19, 2011
1/2 of a great book
I'm really not quite sure if I would recommend this book to a friend or not. It wasn't bad enough that I stopped reading it or anything, but for me it started with a bang and then fizzled out. The author pulls you in with a mystery meets memoir, but then the book seems to suddenly change into some strange religious/ sci-fi tale, which just isn't my thing. It goes from being believable to downright bizarre in an instant. I enjoyed the format, how the author switches back and forth between unraveling the mystery of the Washburn Library and remembering the past experiences of the character. However, for me there were a lot of unexplained parts ( how did the dean even know about Ricky's promise, how to send him the note? And this "I am an oracle" stuff just wasn't enough of an answer for me, etc), and the content of the second half was just a little too...weird.
Publishers Weekly, 2009-06-15 LaValle has garnered critical acclaim for his previous works (a collection, Slapboxing with Jesus, and novel, The Ecstatic), and his second novel is sure to up his critical standing while furthering comparisons to Haruki Murakami, John Kennedy Toole and Edgar Allan Poe. Gritty, mostly honest-hearted ex-heroin addict protagonist Ricky Rice takes a chance on an anonymous note delivered to him at the cruddy upstate New York bus depot where he works as a porter. Quickly, Ricky finds himself among the "Unlikely Scholars," a secret society of ex-addicts and petty criminals, all black like him, living in remote Vermont and sifting through stacks of articles in a library devoted to investigating the supernatural; the existence of a god; and the legacy of Judah Washburn, an escaped slave who claimed to have had contact with a higher being that the Unlikely Scholars now call "the Voice." Ricky's intoxicating voice-robust, organic, wily-is perfect for narrating LaValle's high-stakes mashup of thrilling paranormal and Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man, as the fateful porter-something of a modern Odysseus rallied by a team of "spiritual X-men"-wanders through America's "messianic hoo-hah." (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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