BookDragon Books for the Diverse Reader

Hell of a Book by Jason Mott [in Booklist]

Thanks to veteran narrator JD Jackson and newbie Ronald Peet, Mott’s fourth novel is also a “hell of an audiobook.” An unnamed writer (impeccably embodied by Jackson) embarks on his inaugural book tour because he’s written Hell of a Book. He’s been coached, trained, and commanded by his agent and media trainer (hired at $350 per hour) to avoid mentioning race and being Black. “Being Black’s a curse – no offense – and nobody wants to feel cursed when they read something they just finishing paying $24.95 for.” Oof. And off he goes across the country to talk about a book he can’t talk about.

Beyond what he can’t say, there’s also what (or who) he can’t see – or isn’t supposed to, anyway. No one else – not his Asian American Harvard-degreed chauffeur, not his funeral director-maybe-girlfriend – knows anything about The Kid (imbued with a perfect blend of innocence and attitude by Peet), but he’s become the writer’s invisible companion, often at inopportune moments. He’s also not unlike the latest “dead kid” all over the news – yet another victim of police violence.

Fiction and reality continually blur and overlap throughout, but what remains unavoidably true are the relentless threats to Black existence – dismissal, erasure, violence, murder. Between heartache and heartfelt laughter, Jackson and Peet perform a meta-masterpiece.

Review: “Audio,” Booklist, September 1, 2021

Readers: Adult

Published: 2021


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