Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The Ballad of Black Tom, by Victor LaValle (author), Kevin R. Free (narrator)

Macmillan Audio, February 2016

Tom is a young black man, living in New York City with his father, in the pre-Civil Rights era. Life is not easy, or safe, but Tom has gotten very skilled at presenting a non-threatening front and making money in ways that may not meet his father's high ethical standards, but do meet his looser ones. Mostly, this involves running errands white people with money, but maybe not the highest ethical standards themselves.

And one day, his legal sideline of playing the guitar gets him a really unlikely job. A white man sees him, listens for a bit, and hires him on the spot to play at a party he'll be throwing at his home in one of the fancier neighborhoods.

Tom isn't that good. It makes no sense, but the pay offered is excellent.

It's the beginning a trip down a rabbit hole of epic proportions.

The white man has a plan, in which the black people he recruits with lavish promises are not being told everything, or, really anything. Tom is told a little more, and it's an impressive vision...

Tom is on his way to being angry, embittered, and embarked on his own plan.

The question is whether New York City will survive.

It's a dark and powerful tale, and completely absorbing despite its darkness. Recommended.