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The White Boy Shuffle: A Novel Paperback – May 4, 2001


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Picador; 2nd edition (May 4, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 031228019X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312280192
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.6 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #52,184 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Poet Paul Beatty’s (Big Bank Take Little Bank) first novel is a colorful situation comedy about an unusual African-American's search for his identity. Set within a dramatically caricatured ethnic and cultural landscape, Gunnar Kaufman is a street poet and basketball prodigy raised in predominantly white Santa Monica, whose father is a member of the LAPD. The Kaufmans come from a hilarious family line of groveling Uncle Toms, and as Gunnar faces varying degrees of racism, he struggles between falling into step with the family tradition or forging his own way. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Stylistically, this first novel is a tribute to one of Beatty's teachers, Allen Ginsberg. An author of two volumes of verse who has often been proclaimed the poet laureate of Generation X, Beatty effectively uses the Beat influence to amplify the voice of the hip-hop generation. Gunnar Kaufman, the protagonist of this coming-of-age story, earned his streetwise education in West Los Angeles, not unlike the author. Gunnar is just trying to be Gunnar?an intelligent, sensitive young African American who survives great tribulations while sparing no one his enormous wit. He is clearly a product of our times, and many readers will enjoy his piercing, often hilarious observations on contemporary society. It will be interesting to see what else this talented writer produces in the ensuing years. Meanwhile, this work will ring especially true to those under 35.
-?Susan M. Olcott, Columbus Metropolitan Lib., Ohio
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

The language in this book draws you in.
S. Watkins
This book would be a great tool in introducing the Black American community's search for identity and purpose.
ckjacobs
With every page, I found more of myself in Gunnar Kaufman..
Cecily Walker

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Franklyn on January 2, 2000
Format: Paperback
Paul Beatty's "White Boy Shuffle" is a scathingly irreverent look at modern day African-American "street" culture, and some of it's more ludicrous characteristics. Sort of an anti "Boyz In The Hood". Detailing the picaresque adventures of African-American Gunnar Kauffman as he makes the adjustment to a black inner city neighborhood after growing up in the relatively benign white neighborhood of Santa Monica, Beatty displays dazzlingly creative wordplay and mastery of language, in the tradition of James Joyce and Ralph Ellison. I give it four stars only because I reserve five stars for a book like Ellison's "Invisible Man" which is the apotheosis of the coming of age novel. But believe me, "White Boy Shuffle" is no slouch in that department. Plus it's laugh out loud funny. It's the black "Catcher In The Rye". I once recommended it to Chris Rock telling him, "This guy is doing in prose what you're doing on stage." Which was telling the truth. And while the characters of "White Boy Shuffle" are not developed emotionally and psychologically, this is an extremely clever rant against all the hypocrasies and excesses of contemporary American society.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By mlarroca@mailhost.cccs.es on November 5, 1997
Format: Paperback
Nose pressed against your life? Not getting out enough, smelling American sights and sounds beyond the new mall? Is your current prose reading as soggy as 2% milk on cornflakes left overnight? Might I suggest a romp through past and present, 'burb and 'hood, white and black, in Paul Beatty's White Boy Shuffle. Unlike a lot of "the silent tragedy of my pathetic life" novels, White Boy Shuffle plays for high stakes and generally wins all bets. As a suburban kid myself, I can attest to the sharpness of Beatty's eyes and ears in his depictions of that flat landscape. Every other area gazed upon, inner-city LA, academic life, pseudo radicals, receive the same treatment of the right detail, the cutting insight and the exploding humor. It's all over the top, as black suburban skateboarder finds the inner city, get stomped on, plays ball, writes poetry, is wooed by academia only to become black messiah preaching suicide. It works most of the time and even when Beatty can't pull everything off, your left with the talent of a man who knows how to make a paragraph sing. In an age when social satire is bad manners, the ambition to take it all in and give it back to us, mean and beautiful, has to be appreciated.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By CB1979 on December 2, 2005
Format: Paperback
Look, you have five minutes. I know you do. You're goofing off at work right now. If you have five minutes, open this book up to page 12 and read the main character's recitation of his family history, a deleriously self-loathing parade of misunderstanding and Uncle-Tomism throughout the entirity of American history, starting with his great-grandfather pushing Crispus Attucks in front of a bullet. If you can make it through that entire section without laughing, you probably shouldn't buy this book. But only because you don't have a soul.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Cecily Walker on September 4, 1998
Format: Paperback
Paul Beatty has captured the voice of a silent minority in the African American community.. those kids like myself who grew up in a non-racialized world and then suddenly found ourselves in different circumstances. With every page, I found more of myself in Gunnar Kaufman.. and it was quite a discomfiting discovery. Still, this is one of the funniest, most honest, and incredibly *literate* books I've read in a long time. I can't wait to hear more from this unusually candid and gifted author.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Angela Bratvold on December 12, 2006
Format: Paperback
Paul Beatty's novel The White Boy Shuffle is about a young black boy who, after his mom feels that his growing up in "white" society is detrimental to his and his sisters racial identity decides to move to a Los Angeles suburb. Throughout the novel, Gunnar is constantly struggling to find his identity. Beatty portrays Gunnar's identification struggle by revealing the stereotypes that society places on the black community and the stereotypes that they place on themselves. At one point in the novel, Gunnar struggles escaping from "white" language and has to constantly work on maintaining the slang of the community. However, the stereotypes in the novel aren't limited to "black" and "white" as there are stereotypes about Latino's, Korean's etc. throughout the novel.

Throughout the novel, Gunnar begins to realize that he has the ability to be a talented poet. I found this part interesting because the language within the novel itself is at times poetic and can read like a prose about the social stereotypes. Also, the language of the novel can be at times difficult and confusing. As a native Montanan, I was unaware of some of the terminology throughout the novel. However, once I began to surpass the challenging language of the novel, I was able to laugh at the humor that Beatty illuminates through his satire about social labels.

I would recommend this novel to people that are looking for a challenging novel and interested in a fresh viewpoint on racial labels. The novel for me was difficult to get in to originally, but once I started to understand its purpose, it became extremely intriguing to me. I still don't understand many parts of the novel, especially the ending, but I think that was part of Beatty's purpose. He created an unpredictable narrator to tell the fictional story of a boy growing up surrounded by stereotypes and I doubt I will ever fully understand the novel, but I still found it an interesting read.
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