This is a very interesting esoteric conspiracy novel written from an African-American perspective – the Prince Hall Illuminatus Trilogy, if you will – and it is certainly significant that they were written at about the same time. Mumbo Jumbo deals with Harlem in the Twenties, the birth of Jazz, dirty dancing, Voo-Doo, the Templars, ancient Egypt, Secret Societies, Shadow Governments, and any number of other endearing subjects. The treatment is highly original and makes this well worth dipping your head into.
I read Ishmael Reed’s The Terrible Twos some twenty years ago, and this sequel to it picks up with very little pause. So I guess I wasn’t an ideal reader in this case. This surreal satire, mostly about US politics and religion in the 1990s, written in 1988, is still hilarious. The ways in which Reed fails as a prognosticator are in some measures consoling, and in others alarming. One that particularly stood out for me was the vilification of Ronald Reagan by the Neo-Christian successors to the Republican Party, on the grounds that he was a liberal who bargained with the Soviets. In our “real” world, of course, Reagan was a “liberal” according to the standards of 21st-century politics, but he is still the beloved saint/mascot of the ever more reactionary Republicans.
The book is an incredibly fast read, full of thinly-disguised parodies of public figures and clever twists on cultural tropes. It is also, like its predecessor, a Christmas story. Reed points out that the name “Dickens” actually comes from “Nicholas” somehow, and he makes a fair try at redeeming an assortment of characters more vile than Ebeneezer Scrooge. But in the end, things still look to be deep in “the Terribles,” i.e. the episodes of public shock that commenced with the assassination of President Kennedy. Aye, they are that. [via]