I reviewed this book for alternativmusik.de, but it’s in German, and although I’m sure that counts, I’ll just quickly say a few words about it here.
Simone Felice may be a lot of people’s musical hero, and probably quite rightly so, but boy, can he NOT write a novel. Black Jesus is the man’s third published book, after some shorter fiction, and it’s still only 200 pages long. That’s just not enough space to deal with all the things Felice set out to deal with.
Black Jesus is Lionel White, a young soldier returning from Iraq. He’s blind and drugged and suffering from what he saw in the war, and now he has to move back in with his mum. She loves her boy but can’t get through to him. On the other side of the country, a stripper called Gloria (or maybe not) runs away from the boyfriend who possibly broke her leg after he learned that she had auditioned for a ballet company. Well, technically she doesn’t run, but drives a moped, which I’m sure is much easier to do with a BROKEN LEG. She drives across the whole of America, ponders life and the landscape a bit, then meets Black Jesus, and the two of them solve their crises together. Also, there’s a lot more pondering, and somehow it’s a given that America is on its last leg and everything is DOOMED. That may well be, only there is no lyrical quality to it at all. There are hardly any adjectives other than “good” and “bad” (yes, there is a bad Nazi. Not just a Nazi, a BAD one) and “lonely”. The only stylistic means we are being bombarded with are endless enumerations. They’re meant to be deep, but they’re just annoying. And as for the meeting of kindred lost souls? They kidnap an old lady from her nursing home and then lie down in the grass together (minus the old lady). That’s it.
There is a very small chance all this might have been due to the piss poor translation, but I have to cut the translator some slack. There had to be a bad text first.