Thursday, May 15, 2008

Dreadlock Holiday

I took a month off from listening to (and blogging about) rock music. I spent that month listening to reggae, dub, and ska. I have no insightful opinions to share with you regarding Jamaican music. However, I can recommend a few books I read recently.

This is no more a book blog than it is a reggae blog. But if you enjoy satiric novels, you will be pleased with the works of Anthony Winkler and Steve Aylett. Winkler is Jamaican-born (currently living in Atlanta), and several of his novels have recently been reprinted by Akashic Books. I read The Duppy and Dog War. The Duppy is an affectionate satire of Christian beliefs, both Jamaican and American. It has some characteristics of metafiction, and is hilariously funny.

Aylett is a prolific British writer, mostly of experimental science fiction. I recently read Atom, which is (among other things) an homage to the hard-boiled detective novel; and Lint, which purports to be the biography of a pulp sci-fi writer (loosely based on Philip K. Dick). Enjoy a hallucinatory taste of Aylett (from Atom):
...there was a stranger onstage wearing this huge black coat and playing a giant flute. And as he played, some- thing began to inflate from the end of the instrument. It was a human head, resembling exactly that of the musician, its lips attached to this end of the flute and facing its twin. Then the body began to tumble from beneath the head like a birthing calf. The feet hit the stage and the form filled out, swaying slow in the ventilation. Then the arms quickly inflated, quivering up into position, and the real guy, the first one, detached and floated out above the audience. The new man, coat and all, had taken over on the flute, and his music bobbed and drifted like the airborne figure. The floating man, uplit and shadow-freaked, was screaming as though terrified, and so was everyone else. The clientele began to fire at the ceiling, at each other, at the musician onstage.

...The musician reacted weirdly. As the volleys flew, he telescoped the flute and drew his coat all around like Bela Lugosi, sinking behind it and turning his back. It looked like the ammo was disappearing into that coat like pledges into a manifesto. Then when a shell burst the floating man, next thing the whole joint was being showered with confetti, all these louts looking up like it was Christmas, and the stage guy was nowhere.

Every single flake of confetti bore a miniature likeness of the stranger's face.