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~READ KINDLE ☳ The Ballad of Black Tom ♲ People Move To New York Looking For Magic And Nothing Will Convince Them It Isn T ThereCharles Thomas Tester Hustles To Put Food On The Table, Keep The Roof Over His Father S Head, From Harlem To Flushing Meadows To Red Hook He Knows What Magic A Suit Can Cast, The Invisibility A Guitar Case Can Provide, And The Curse Written On His Skin That Attracts The Eye Of Wealthy White Folks And Their Cops But When He Delivers An Occult Tome To A Reclusive Sorceress In The Heart Of Queens, Tom Opens A Door To A Deeper Realm Of Magic, And Earns The Attention Of Things Best Left SleepingA Storm That Might Swallow The World Is Building In Brooklyn Will Black Tom Live To See It Break It seems to be my month for trying new authors not read prior, and also I noticed all of the good press, here on GR, from friends and others, so I thought I would give The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaValle a go.I read the book in one sitting, and perhaps TMI, didn t even take a bathroom break.This should say something about author Victor LaValle s ability to capture a reader and keep him enthralled.The book begins by telling a story about a young black street hustler in the 1920 s New York street and music scene Mr LaValle introduces a bit of tension and begins to incorporate aspects of Cosmic Evil and it s relation to our main character This brought about a kind of ha ha moment as I asked myself Why does the evil so often arrive in the form of a book At this point we are switched POV characters to a New York policeman who happens to be interested in the worlds underbelly of sinister evil itself.Then all hell breaks loose as our Cthulhu tries to enter our world through an opened gateway and wreaks havoc with New York s finest and a slew of anti aircraft weapons Mr Victor LaValle manages to pull the whole thing off with style and grace, thus making it necessary to add to my book collection of this authors creations. 3.5 Okay I have never read Lovecraft s Cthulhu I want to but there are so many different editions I don t know which one is the best This book is supposed to be referenced but I wouldn t know There is one quote from the book Malone finally heard the last words Black Tom whispered down in the basement I ll take Cthulhu over you devils any day I was a little bored with the book in the beginning because I couldn t figure out what was going on, but after awhile it clicked somewhat and it was great The scene down in the basement, my favorite I loved Black Tom himself Once again if again if anyone can give me some good rec s to the best Cthulhu book I would greatly appreciate it Oh, and put them under the comments because I have GR book recs disabled I only see a book review from there if I m going to read that particular book Thanks Mel Tommy Tester is a hustler, doing what he has to to make ends meet and support his ailing father When he meets Robert Suydam, things will never be the sameI ve always been a bigger fan of things inspired by H.P Lovecraft than the man s actual work It s certainly been a good few months for H.P Lovecraft inspired fiction for me First, there was Carter Lovecraft, then Lovecraft Country, and now this novella, the Ballad of Black Tom.Victor LaValle has taken The Horror at Red Hook, called Lovecraft s most racist book by some, and turned it inside out.Tommy Tester delivers a magical tome to an old woman, runs afoul of two detectives, and meets up with an old man bent on waking The Sleeping King from his dead and dreaming slumber Needless to say, a lot happens in this slim book.There was a viewpoint shift about halfway through While I didn t think Malone was as interesting as Black Tom, the story couldn t have been told without him LaValle does a fantastic job of capturing the Lovecraftian flavor of The Horror at Red Hook and makes it his own I loved the ending of this book Hell, I devoured the whole thing in one sitting.4.5 out of 5 stars I ll be watching Victor LaValle with great interest. Didn t work for me, unfortunately I admire the idea of interacting with the good and bad of Lovecraft, and the novel probably does work as creative literary criticism, but since I m not that interested in Lovecraft I think I missed a lot of the wit As a stand alone story I struggled to connect with the characters or feel any sense of awe or fear when the beasties show up For the most part, the mystical portions seem to show up just for the sake of being monstrous and doesn t add to the story The writing is good, though I ll probably pick up something else by LaValle eventually. Every time I was around them, they acted like I was a monster So I said goddamnit, I ll be the worst monster you ever saw A story juxtaposing Lovecraftian mythology against the racism and inequality of 1920s New York is so deliciously poetic it left me amazed that no one had thought of it before now I love that this constant inequality ends up being reason enough to justify drastic, desperate action to bring about its end, by dealing with forces the protagonist doesn t fully understand, but welcomes wholeheartedly.Thoroughly enjoyable. although lovecraft hails from the great state of rhode island and providence plantations, and we have few enough literary feathers in our tiny hat and because there are apparently rules about who can be claimed and who cannot, and cormac mccarthy s moving to memphis from his providence birthplace at four years old an age where he was basically luggage and certainly not choosing to leave the ocean state behind, nonetheless renders him ineligible to be counted as one of us , i have never been a lovecraft fan.and wouldn t it be commendable if i could claim to be all aglow with high minded outrage, disliking him on principle, finding his racist and misogynistic views so unacceptable that they caused me to boycott his work in an admirable, if somewhat smug, demonstration of righteousness but that ain t even it i tried reading him when i was, like, twelve, and i just found it boring and cheesy and the horror equivalent of panning away from the romantic leads just before they give in to their passion in a very naked way everything was suggested, occluded, and i wanted to see the good bloody stuff, thank you very much but as it happens, apart from writing boring ass stories, lovecraft was a super douche and by all accounts, cormac mccarthy is a professional, decent, and humble gentleman, so you re welcome, tennessee this book is lavalle s reworking of lovecraft s The Horror at Red Hook, which is apparently considered to be lovecraft s most racist ever, despite the existence of his poem On the Creation of Niggers, which goes a little something like this When, long ago, the gods created EarthIn Jove s fair image Man was shaped at birth.The beasts for lesser parts were next designed Yet were they too remote from humankind.To fill the gap, and join the rest to Man,Th Olympian host conceiv d a clever plan.A beast they wrought, in semi human figure,Filled it with vice, and called the thing a Nigger.that is stunningly toxic, but at least it is very short if The Horror at Red Hook is somehow even racist and also longer and probably also filled with his brand of dude, this horror i m writing about is so horrifying, i can t even tell you about it seriously it would blow your mind too much just trust me it is super scary wwwwOOOoooo , well, i m happy to avoid it all of this to say that i have no clue how this novella functions as a response to or a reworking of the original all i know is that i enjoyed lavalle s writing, particularly the way he scrapped that turgid lovecraftian vocabulary, and chose to employ a modified version of lovecraft s inexpressible horror, where the horror is at least partially expressed described enough so it retains a sense of mystery without leaving the reader with nothing bonus points for name dropping the fine little rhody towns of pascoag and chepachet, which were mentioned in the source material, so no biggie there yeah, i researched this read the wikipedia page, what , but for ALSO mentioning woonsocket, the location of the hospital in which i first drew breath i don t know what is happening there, but it seems about right.to conclude hchokengtitiktitikchokeng lovecraft an unpleasant man with a gigantic head buried in the cemetery where i used to smoke pot and take gothy pictures.victor lavalle a man from queens represent who seems quite affable and counters lovecraft s bullshit with this book and a photograph i am calling the horror at red tongue come to my blog Nominated for a Hugo, Nebula, and Shirley Jackson Awards, The Ballad of Black Tom is a fine little novella, made accessible to horror dilettantes by the graciousness of Tor.com Set in New York City in the 1920s, it is apparently the author s answer to a than vaguely racist Lovecraft classic where he lamented all those immigrants in NYC.https www.tor.com 2015 03 03 lovecrFor me, some transitions felt extremely choppy, and now that I read an analysis of the source material, my suspicion is that LaValle was hewing too closely to the original When I was pondering how what I would say in my review, I was thinking about characterization and trying to pinpoint if that was the problem, but it wasn t, not really the characters felt very real to me, well drawn at that moment in time It s just that their personalities as the story evolved didn t seem congruent The I thought on it, the dissatisfied I became I believed Tom s somewhat easy going con man approach, the earnestness of his father, the fanaticism of the older white dude So it wasn t a character creation issue But once I understood that LaValle was trying to force his characters to follow and yet subvert the original, it made sense Marlow didn t make much sense to me at all, but I think we can lay that at Lovecraft s feet.Atmosphere is well crafted LaValle definitely captures a sense of time period, and then the eerie, especially the visits to the elderly woman, and then the bloody violence The party of thugs didn t make sense, but again Lovecraft I guess that s the problem with parodies spoofs riffs the failings of the source material.The writing is solid and the imagery is vivid Overall, worth reading if you are a fan of Lovecraftian horror , or bloody folk tales, or revenge fantasies I ll leave off mentioning the GR Choice Awards, because this site as a conglomerate has terrible taste Not you people, of course All the other ones who seem to think Pierce Brown is the only one in the world that can write Sci Fi, and J.K Rowling, Fantasy I won t speak on Stephen King and Horror because I m not qualified Brief side rant on Lovecraft I am annoyed by his writing It s cumbersome, florid, and dated Just because there are otherworldly beings that want to eat the human race alive doesn t mean the dude gets a whole genre in his name Otherwise we should call everything that has monsters wanting to be men, Shelley Horror I was going to go for Shelleyian, but phonetically, that sounds too much like Shelley Ann Doesn t work, does it I cry genre sexism See my my review of The Stand. I don t know what I was expecting but certainly not that in a good way I have a complicated relationship which shorter books Too often I feel dissatisfy with them as they re simply missing something probably content.It wasn t the case at all with the dark fantasy set in New York A lot of people compare it to Lovecraft, which I have yet to read but I m not looking forward to.Would recommend A wondrous modern fable, The Ballad of Black Tom is the story of Charles Thomas Tester, a small time hustler in New York in the 1920s He deals in magic and helps his poor, crippled father live as comfortably as possible Soon he meets someone who promises riches and power, but what does Tom have to give up to get these riches