I loved the narrative voice, which frequently made me laugh. Loved the way the book was structured, starting out as surface-level as a sit-com and then deepening, almost as if the narrator waited to get to know the reader a bit before revealing his family's pock marks.
"Black barbers the world over, they use electric clippers. These are modern times. In many sectors, technological advances are welcomed and embraced. My father, however, loved his special pair of old-school barber scissors, and we loved them too, because the sound of the long, thin blades snipping against each other was the sound of his undivided attention."Occasionally, the prose veers off onto a tangent so long that it threatens never to return. I've been known to stop reading highly esteemed writers (cough John Irving cough, cough) for this reason alone, but Whitehead pulls it off. Maybe it works because the narrator is an older version of the main character and so the diversions read with the synaptic clarity of memory. (You know, that phenomenon where one memory leads to another seemingly randomly, and only the owner of the brain can see the connection between the two events?). Or maybe it's the pacing of the novel--the long-winded musings aren't a distraction from the plot. Instead, the plot is a vehicle for the musings.
This is Whitehead's fourth book, which is good news for me--no need to wait for his next book to come out, there's a queue of them ready and waiting to find their way to my bookshelves.
The soundtrack: "At any given moment, someone was playing 'Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now.' Labor Day, we cornered the worldwide market on people playing 'Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now.' It was the black national anthem. The disco version of 'We Shall Overcome,' courtesy of Mr. McFadden and Mr. Whitehead."
Title: Sag Harbor
Author: Colson Whitehead
Publication info: April 28, 2009 (Doubleday) 288 pages