Travel with him on this journey of discovery. Join Bus and his cousins as they string popcorn and chinaberries for the yule tree, savor ice cream made from rare Mississippi snow, eat cornbread crumbled in buttermilk, enjoy all-day suckers and dill pickles at the general store. Meet the extended family that lives at Riverside -- Buster's grandparents Mammy and Pappy, his aunt Allie and uncle Cally, and his cousins -- as well as their black neighbor Mattie Riley and her son Leroy.
At the heart of this story lies Buster's strong and sustaining friendship with Leroy. From his Pullman window, Buster first sees Leroy sitting on a stile near Riverside waving at the passing train. Leroy soon becomes Buster's fellow explorer, fishing instructor, and best friend. Before Leroy waves goodbye to Buster's departing train for the last time, an unbreakable bond is formed with the gift of a pocketknife -- and what happens because of that gift. Even so, the racial prejudices of the time dictate that the paths of their lives diverge.
Wallace Briggs set out to write a memoir of his family and of his own youth, but he has shaped a story that is far more than a personal recollection. Its themes are among the most powerful in literature -- love and death, family dynamics, the innocence and selfishness of childhood, the struggle with cultural mores. What Briggs has produced is a work of great power and many pleasures, as finely constructed as a novel or stage play. His prose is crisp, cool, and sweet, like a slice of the watermelon chilling in the artesian well-water at Riverside.
In Where the Bird Sings Best —Alejandro Jodorowsky’s visionary autobiographical novel that NPR compared to One Hundred Years of Solitude and called “a genius’s surreal vision brought to life”—we followed Jodorowsky’s predecessors as they came to Chile, fleeing pogroms in Ukraine. Now, in The Son of Black Thursday, Jodorowsky himself takes the stage alongside the unforgettable cast of his early years as they confront the horrors of indentured servitude in American-backed copper mines and the brutal oppression of a corrupt government.
Alongside the young dreamer Alejandro, we follow his father, Jaime, who’s obsessed with assassinating the dictator whom he ends up serving; his mother, Sara Felicidad, a spiritually attuned giantess who moonlights as a shopkeeper-turned-revolutionary and sings instead of speaks; Rubi, the mystic heiress to the copper mines who conceives a magnificent sacrifice to foment a workers’ revolt; and the ghost of a wise rabbi who’s been passed down as mentor from one Jodorowsky generation to the next.
In its captivating blend of wonder, horror, humor, eros, and magic, The Son of Black Thursday is another mind-expanding opus from Jodorowsky that feels both cosmically true and and urgently needed for our time.
Praise for Where the Bird Sings Best
“Where the Bird Sings Best is Alejandro Jodorowsky’s brilliant, mad, and unpredictable semi-autobiographical novel. Translated by Alfred MacAdam, this multigenerational chronicle introduces a host of memorable characters, from a dwarf prostitute and a floating ghost-Rabbi to a lion tamer who eats raw meat and teaches his beasts to jump through flaming hoops. Fantastical elements aside, Where the Bird Sings Best is a fiercely original immigration tale that culminates in the author’s birth in Chile in 1929—a complicated time in that nation’s history. Combine that with poetry, tarot, and Jewish mysticism and you have a genius’s surreal vision brought to life.”
—NPR, Best Books of 2015
“Wildly inventive.… Jodorowsky’s masterpiece swirls around the reader, lurching from violent episode to mystical encounter to cosmic sexual escapade as we follow our narrator’s grandparents’ journey from the old world to, refreshingly, South America. As the drama unfolds, the reader’s response veers from incredulity to awe, from doubt to delight. The momentum holds for the length of the novel as a cavalcade of outsized characters careen across the page in a frenzy that seems for once an adequate and just representation of the living fury that is history.… The images possess an extreme yet striking beauty.”
—Askold Melnyczuk, The Los Angeles Review of Books
“This epic family saga, reminiscent of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude in structure and breadth, reads at a breakneck pace. Though ostensibly a novelization of the author’s own family history, it is a raucous carnival of the surreal, mystical, and grotesque.... It weaves together Jewish philosophy, passion, humor, Tarot, ballet, circuses, natural disasters, spectacular suicides, lion tamers, knife throwers, Catholic devotion, farmers, betrayals, prostitutes, leftist politics, political violence, and the ghost of a wise rabbi who follows the family from the Old World to the New.”
“A sweeping tale of personal, philosophical, and political struggles. It’s an immigrant’s story of Fellini-esque proportions…. For the self-proclaimed atheist mystic, the sacraments are memory, dreams, family, wisdom, the grotesque, and the reinvention of the self…. A conduit and biographical key that further reveals his mesmerizing process of imaginative self-fashioning.”
—Alison Nastasi, Flavorwire
“The legendary filmmaker has taken his lineage for inspiration in this twisted meditation on existentialism flavored with Jewish mysticism, incest, and some honey for good measure. This supposed biography works more as a jumping off place for a truly wild literary ride. Graphic, ambitious, magical, demented—Jodorowsky’s visual virtuosity showcases a whirlwind of occultism, cultism, sex, and death across time and space. Truly striking, psychedelic, and one of the more surreal books I have read in a while. But what more could you expect from the man who adapted Frank Herbert’s Dune into a 14-hour film and created his own tarot?”
—Ashanti White-Wallace, WORD Bookstore (Jersey City, NJ)