Seduced: The Life and Times of a One-Hit Wonderby Nelson George
Derek Harper is an r&b junkie whose desire since childhood has been to be a successful songwriter in the tradition of his idol, Curtis Mayfield. Indeed, music frees Derek from the protective cocoon that his enigmatic father, an undertaker, and his devout mother created for him in their black middle-class Queens neighborhood. Derek's ambitions take him away from the… See more details below
Derek Harper is an r&b junkie whose desire since childhood has been to be a successful songwriter in the tradition of his idol, Curtis Mayfield. Indeed, music frees Derek from the protective cocoon that his enigmatic father, an undertaker, and his devout mother created for him in their black middle-class Queens neighborhood. Derek's ambitions take him away from the comfortable predictability of his life to a tiny Times Square apartment in Manhattan. There he encounters the guts of the music industry in the 1980s: frustrated gospel singers, nefarious record producers, captivating vocal divas, the cultural stripmining of jingle writing, rebellious rap groups, and record company executives in Atlanta, L.A., and New York. The seduction of women, music, and flash take Derek around the country, with only his parents to act as his conscience: his mother admonishes against his irresponsible lifestyle. Yet it is his father's attitude that is more troubling to Derek. In the wake of their neighborhood's steady deterioration, his bitter pragmatism shocks Derek into maturity. His odyssey comes full circle, when Derek gets what he thought he wanted from life - and maybe even more. Using his own lyrics, songs of the times, and colorful anecdotes, George shows us how the threads of love - both romantic and familial - weave into the work of an artist and into building a young black man's life.
Former Village Voice music critic, nonfiction journalist (Elevating the Game, 1992, etc.), and novelist (Urban Romance, 1994) George hasn't got much in the way of literary chops, but he has found a subject: the devolution of black music from '70s soul to disco to rap, as experienced through the rise of Derek Harper, a middle-class, moderately talented songwriter from Queens. Son of a stern undertaker, whose business success serves as an index of the rise of crack and black-on-black murder, Derek's course is set when R&B music promoter Edgecombe Lennox recruits him: He'll drop out of college, hang around with musicians instead of taking a job, and hit on available women instead of staying true to childhood sweetheart Candi. The novel sings in these early scenes of black Queens, but then takes a bizarre and tasteless turn: a woman Derek has been having a kinky affair with is murdered with his anatomically ambitious dildo. Somehow, though, the story survives this John Irvingesque-capade. Taking over the management of an early rap tour, Derek witnesses and becomes part of a scary, violent, yet undeniably powerful new phenomenonand he learns to cover up rape by rappers, to deal with gangbangers and drug kingpins, to hustle groupies, and to write songs. It's this material, and the portraits of Derek's more serious relationships with a group of successful black women, that elevate a novel that otherwise would be a tin-eared B-side single into a credible, if minor, hit. Derek's reunion with childhood sweetheart Candi, and his decision to start a community arts center with proceeds from his one success, shows that this is one male author who can dish out wish-fulfillment with the best of them.
Sweet, raunchy, and, when the author doesn't flinch, genuinely arresting.
- Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 5.96(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.19(d)
- Age Range:
- 18 Years
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