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The White Boy Shuffle

4.1  ·  Rating details ·  3,159 Ratings  ·  313 Reviews
White Boy Shuffle is Man Booker-winner Paul Beatty’s electrifying debut novel about teenage-surf-bum Gunnar Kaufman who is forced to wise up when his mother moves from suburban Santa Monica to urban West Los Angeles. There, he begins to undergo a startling transformation from neighbourhood outcast to basketball superstar, and eventually to reluctant messiah of a ‘divided, ...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published May 4th 2001 by Picador (first published 1996)
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Feb 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Nomy by: dusty, beth stinson
this book is crazy. i just put it down so his voice is still strong in my head, i can hear exactly what he would say about my review, in fact he basically already said it in his book... whiteys praying for their black poet-god to absolve them of their sins, crying "i understand! i finally understand!" paul beatty is hilarious. and smart. and deep and loving even if he only wants you to catch glimpses of his whole heart when he's just about to sprint away and leave you in the dust. but it's there ...more
Apr 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2017
Honestly can't recommend this enough. For my shame, after Paul Beatty's The Sellout won the Man Booker in 2016, I let it pass me by. For some misguided reason, I didn't believe it was my kind of book, nor did I feel like Beatty would be the kind of writer I would enjoy. On a hunch, I tried this book, and if The White Boy Shuffle is anything to go by, I was wrong about this author.

This book is, well, frankly hilarious. Beatty has an enormous amount of fun playing with characters and history - let
Jun 02, 2012 rated it it was ok
I wanted to love this book. Thinking back on the elements of it that worked and the playful language that resonated with its themes and content, I still want to love this book. But, ugh. . . I just don't. I don't even really like it. I don't hate it. I guess I am mostly just severely disappointed with it.

There were moments, strong moments that I hoped would blossom into something more than a sketchy, jokey run through Gunnar's life, but they never developed. The prologue and introduction were so
Jun 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Poignant. Roller-coaster of lyrical language, words that kept me going to the dictionary and references from Greek mythology to modern civil rights history amid the hyperbolic tale of the protagonist's disjointed upbringing and clashes with societal norms and pervasive cultural legacies. Still comprehending how this book affected me, to say the least I could hardly put it down.

Highly recommended. I could pick it up and read it again already.

“The school’s library rivalled most college libraries and I turned it into my personal athenaeum… In the library I could avoid white boys asking me if I thought blacks were closer to gorillas while tufts of unruly chest hair crept past their collars like weeds starving for sunlight. I could hide from smarmy college basketball recruiters who’d never think to look for a black athlete in the library.”

The White Boy Shuffle is the first novel by American Man Booker prize-winning author and poet,
Aug 28, 2007 rated it it was amazing
I started out hating this book, but by the time I was done I loved it. It's why I think of Christopher Walken when I see the moon.
Jan 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This lyrical, poetic, and otherworldly tale of being a Black male in America had me alternating between states of hysterical laughter and melancholy. Every line was funny but sad. Gunnar, the protagonist, had me on a roller coaster of emotions with his clever ghetto life metaphors and his painful realizations that the perennial struggle against white supremacy is an exercise in futility. That futility begs the question of how a person of color is to escape the hopelessness, sense of defeat and f ...more
Dec 09, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Phil Jackson gave this book to Kobe Bryant. I stumbled upon it in Engl472. It does not need praise. Infinite Jest squeezed into 200 odd pages with a message that makes Aaron McGruder look like Wayne Brady. Everything you ever need in a book is here: a Gang of Four reference, suicide, a Japanese Mail Order bride, slavery/basketball. If you're tempted to say that Beatty is better than Ellison and Baldwin fused with some Morrison on top, the book will still eat you alive and leave you painting a ta ...more
Jan 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone who hasn't read it yet
This is my favorite book that no one else has read; I recommend it to people constantly.

It's lovingly, compellingly detailed despite being slightly larger-than-life. (The protagonist's best friend never, ever misses a shot.) It's intensely personal and soaringly metaphorical; scathing, incendiary, imaginative, observational and, oh yes, hilarious.

Every sentence crackles-- I found myself putting it down to catch my breath occasionally.

Oh, and it will probably change your position about at least
Jan 04, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 13, 2008 rated it really liked it
The Oscar Wao of the 90s. Brilliant.
There is no way that Junot Diaz wasn't influenced by this book.

I only take off a star because of the suicide theme at the end. I understand the concept of taking back power and autonomy, of suicide as the ultimate protest. I also understand that it is all meant as satire. Still, it took away from the energy and vibrancy of the rest of the book that I loved so, so much.
Mar 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: race-relations
I’m always apprehensive about going back to a favorite author. What if I’m not impressed. What if the magic is lost? Will the author maintain his status or will he come tumbling down the high pedestal? He set an incredibly high bar with “The Sellout”, but I am relieved to report that Paul Beatty still maintains his throne in my book kingdom as a unique author who breaks the monotony of current black fiction.

The White Boy Shuffle is a coming of age story of Gunnar Kaufman. At 13 his single mom mo
Ashley Lauren
*** Almost spoiler alert... maybe a foreshadowing alert?***

This book was dancing right at the 5 star range for me for the first 3/4. It is FUNNY. And then just when you're cracking up the hardest Beatty will hit you with a well placed one-liner that brings you back to your senses and makes you wonder what the hell is wrong with this world. I adore the way he talked to his mom. Hysterical.

But, obviously, you'll see that I'm rating it only 3 stars. Why the down grade? Because after that first 3/4
Maggie Needham
Feb 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
I was a little off put in the beginning of this book and figured it just wasn’t for me, but geez am I glad I kept going. Totally weird and funny and I loved reading it.
Simon A. Smith
Aug 14, 2009 rated it did not like it
Despite really wanting to appreciate this book, I strongly disliked it. The problem is that I never started caring about the narrator. The author asks us to believe that the main character is too cool for school, too smart for the neighborhood, too smug for bullshit and too righteous to ever admit defeat. How can readers appreciate a character or relate to a character like that? My answer is... they can't.

Along with the story being unbelievable, I also felt like it was a little insulting to the
Apr 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
"What am I willing to die for? The day when white people treat me with respect and see my life as equally valuable to theirs? No, I ain't willing to die for that, because if they don't know that by now, then they ain't never going to know it," says Gunnar Kaufman, main character of Beatty's white-hot satirelegy of black life in America in the 1990s. But every damn thing about this book feels timely, almost more timely by the minute. It is absolutely more raw than The Sellout but it is, perhaps, ...more
May 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people of color, anyone with a sense of humour
Recommended to T.J. by: Professor Widener
Shelves: negritude
I love this book far more than humanly necessary. White Boy Shuffle speaks greatly to ethnic stereotypes, satirically skewering perceptions left and right with an increasingly ridiculous narrative. The book goes from the surfer-dominated West L.A. to the inner=city to the wilds of East Coast university life, and manages to be witty and poignant and bizarre all at once. Hiliarous read.
Cassius Zen
Jun 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Really good book!
I didn't really like it the first pages and was thinking on putting it down but i didn't and im really glad that i keept reading because it turns out to be really good reading in the end.
Kurt Kemmerer
Nov 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Satire, reality, the surreal (or some version of "magical realism," if you must go there), subtlety, noise, serious humor. It's all here. It's all intelligent, and almost too poetic. Oh, and it should be read by every American as soon as possible.
Mar 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I had to savor this book. As funny as The Sellout, but honestly, just feels more like it was written for me. It sends up not just Los Angeles (including necks of the LA woods I'm surprisingly familiar with) and my own college town, Boston. It elevates a premise I was weakly, stupidly kicking around for a couple of NaNoWriMo cycles: the notion that suicide was the most productive thing I can do to sustain not just humankind but even the biosphere and, oh I don't know, full employment. I could nev ...more
Toglietemi tutto, ma non i miei libri
La narrazione è rude, non è scorrevole e parla di fatti che sinceramente mi hanno dato l'impressione di essere lì solo per infoltire un po' il libro.
Insomma, non ho idea di come io abbia fatto a finirlo!
Non è decisamente il mio genere ed ho odiato il modo in cui era scritto.
Sono rimasta molto delusa da questa lettura, vi ho detto cosa mi aspettavo di leggere, probabilmente ho frainteso io il libro che dalla trama sembrava pure una storia interessante, peccato poi che non mi sono ritrovata con la
May 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: five-star
"Like the good Reverend King
I too "have a dream,"
but when I wake up
I forget it and
remember I'm running late for work"

How do you review a book when you can hear the author in your head ripping into each sentence you try to write? This thing lives and breathes as you read. There is not a sentence that isn't engaging and biting and weighted like a punch. This was like being strapped on a roller coaster with stomach sickness and no emergency brake. I normally devour books; this devoured me. Ab-so-lu
Seyi Onabanjo
Jun 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Really wish I had read this BEFORE I read the same author's amazing novel "The Sellout". If nothing else it would have prepared me better for the superlative flow (words, characters, scenarios), tongue drilling a hole in the writer's cheek and super confident sarcastic, sardonic narrative voice. These elements wrapped around slightly off kilter slightly off-kilter proposed solution to todays race relations problems makes this reading pretty compulsory. Will be tracing down his other writing ASAP ...more
Feb 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
Reading this book is like reading a 267page very fast rap song. It is loud, manic, fast, each page is packed with energy, it is caustic, relevant, hilarious, outrageous and moving. I really really liked it.
Mar 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: contemporary
An African-American Ziggy Stardust. That clever and that hilarious too. So much fun to read!
Mar 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I loved the social commentary this book provided about living as a member of a minority group in America. This is a very interesting book, though not one you necessarily want to read in one day. This book is hard to wrap your mind around if you are a white American, as it deals with issues you don't really see. It is also hard to understand because it switches between proper literary grammar and words and a dialect. Despite the challenges, however, this book is amazing and so interesting. I woul ...more
Sian Lile-Pastore
I liked the voice and the writing style, it's funny and smart. I can see how you could love this book - but really, it wasn't for me. Too satire-y (tho have just watched an interview where Beatty says he hates the word satire), and too blokey with a steak of misogyny running through it (or is this part of the 'satire'?).
Seth Reeves
Dec 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
What can you say about this book? In a way it is like a black version of the movie 'Cool World' where we are transported to a world where everything is both cartoon-ish and inherently threatening at the same time. A black teenager with a white first name and Jewish second name gets to experience being the 'cool black kid' in middle-class Santa Monica to being marginalized and insulted for bringing his 'white' sense of fashion and way of speaking to the lower-class neighborhood of Hillside and th ...more
Apr 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016
In his first novel, Beatty tells the story of a young man named Gunnar Kaufman who grows up to be a successful poet while unintentionally becoming the "Negro Demagogue;" a David Koresh for African Americans. Kaufman was raised by his mother in a predominantly white school in Santa Monica. The liberal student body and teachers all treated Kaufman special because he was, in their words, the cool black kid. Surrounded by people who claimed not to see race but could not account for unconsciously tre ...more
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The White Boy Shuffle - YA? 2 14 Dec 30, 2012 11:51PM  
  • Flight to Canada
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Paul Beatty (born 1962 in Los Angeles) is a contemporary African-American author. Beatty received an MFA in creative writing from Brooklyn College and an MA in psychology from Boston University. He is a 1980 graduate of El Camino Real High School in Woodland Hills, California.

In 1990, Paul Beatty was crowned the first ever Grand Poetry Slam Champion of the Nuyorican Poets Cafe. One of the prizes f
More about Paul Beatty...

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“Like the good Reverend King
I too 'have a dream'
but when I wake up
I forget it and
remember I'm running late for work.”
“It's corny, but I think poems are echoes of the voices in your head and from your past. Your sisters, your father, your ancestors taking to you and through you. Some of it is primal, some of it is hallucinatory bullshit. That madness those boys rapping ain't nothing but urban folklore. They retelling stories passed down from chicken coop to apartment stoop to Ford coupe. Hear that rhyme, boy. Shit, I could get down and rap if I had to. MC Big Mama Osteoporosis in the house.” 7 likes
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