Soul Cityby Touré
From the wildly popular author of the groundbreaking debut The Portable Promised Land comes an inventive and hilarious first novel about an African-American utopia threatened by the darker side of human nature. Welcome to Soul City, where roses bloom in the cracks of the sidewalk along Cornbread Boulevard, musical genres become political platforms, and children use their allowance money to buy records from the Vinyl Man. Its an unusually peaceful and magical American community with a strong heritage and sense of unity--at least, thats how journalist Cadillac Jackson first finds it. When Jackson visits Soul City on a magazine assignment, a mayoral election is imminent and candidates from opposing parties are battling to control the citys soundtrack. Amidst the increasingly hostile campaign, Cadillac falls for Mahogany Sunflower, a beautiful Soul Cityzen, and begins a struggle to shed the embattled African-American identity hes been taught to adopt, in order to exist in a community where the content of his character really does determine a black mans identity. What he discovers reveals as much about himself as it does about human nature and the meaning of race in America.
"Touré fulfills his promise in [this] inventive debut novel."Vanity Fair
"Try to imagine Ronald Firbank with a street swagger, and you have some idea of the high style of Touré's Soul City. . . . Touré's experimental fiction makes him the young man to watch in the literary arena."Tom Wolfe
"Imaginative, buoyant, and slyly funny, this satire . . . is a delight to read and a pleasure to hum along to."Publishers Weekly
- Little, Brown and Company
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- Hachette Digital, Inc.
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Little, BrownCopyright © 2004 Toure
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Chapter OneTHE TRAIN eased to a stop at Soul City, and Cadillac Jackson smoothed off into a new life. He had a pen in one hand and a pad in the other, hungry to catch every detail. He was from The City and infused with the requisite towering ambition that everyone from The City had. He'd come to Soul City to research the book that would establish him as one of the great writers of his generation. Whether he had the talent to render the world of Soul City honestly remained to be seen. He'd been sent by Chocolate City Magazine, ordered to spend three days, write a short piece about the mayoral election, and get back home. But he had other plans. He'd always wanted to visit the city that boasted "more mojo than any city in the world." To see the world-famous one-hundred-foot-tall Afro Pick, to hear one of Revren Lil' Mo Love's crazy sermons, to get a sack of six at the Biscuit Shop. And he'd always wanted to write a book about Soul City. He knew all the other books had gotten it wrong. No one had really figured out what made Soul City what it was. He vowed not to leave until he knew. Great books had been inspired by Dublin, Venice, Paris, Bombay, and New York. He would add Soul City.
Cadillac stepped out of the station onto Groove Street and saw men cooling down the block with walks of such visible rhythm, physical artistry, and attention to aesthetics that it looked like a pimp-stroll convention. Across the street a barber was clipping and snipping at a prodigious fro in an open-air barbershop, clipping with the arrogance of a famous painter wielding his brush, snipping whether in or out of the fro, turning those scissors into a snare. On the corner a street sweeper swept with a theatricality that transformed his duty into modern dance.
On Mojo Road a flock of girls double-dutched, pigtails bouncing, the rope cracking at lightning speed, while the three in the middle danced in the air, never touching the ground. They seemed to be levitating, but those ropes were moving so fast it was difficult to tell exactly what was going on. Maybe the ropes were whipping up a mini-sonic boom that created a pocket of air that the girls could surf for a moment, like an invisible magic carpet. That made no sense. But what he saw made no sense either: six- and seven-year-old girls in rainbow-colored tights with ropes zipping under their bent legs eight, nine, ten times before they touched the sidewalk. They touched down less from gravity than from boredom, as if they'd been just hanging out in the air.
He checked into his hotel, the Copasetic on Cool Street, then walked from Nappy Lane to Gravy Ave to Cornbread Boulevard. The sidewalks were forty to fifty feet wide and the streets were abuzz with all-age minifestivals of hair braiding, marble shooting, bubble blowing, puddle stomping, roller-skating, faithful preaching, "God's coming!," mommies strolling, babies toddling, groceries spilling, lots of flirting, and gossip flying. On Bookoo Boulevard the Vinylmobile crept by, offering old albums for a few dollars, and children poured from homes to chase it as children elsewhere chase ice cream trucks. The Washeteria on Badass Ave had its own DJ so you could dance while you dried. And it made perfect sense that in a world where bad means good, the traffic signals used green for stop and red for go.
On Irie Way and Downhome Drive he found flowers leaping up through the sidewalks. They were American beauties and African violets, more vibrant, fragrant, and giant than any he'd ever seen. He bent and saw their roots were buried beneath the concrete. The flowers had confronted the pavement and punched through it, undeterrable in their desire to get closer to the sun. Bent low, he could see the little speakers that had been built into the sidewalks all over town. First he heard Satchmo think to himself what a wonderful world, then Bob spoke of redemption songs, then James proclaimed he was Black and he was proud. There was an easy vibe to the place, as if everything in the world were possible and there was all the time in the world to do it, for Soul City minutes were ninety seconds long. Cadillac tried to scribble a few words that would capture the scene, but nothing came.
Excerpted from Soul City by Toure Copyright © 2004 by Toure. Excerpted by permission.
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Meet the Author
Touré is the author of the story collection The Portable Promised Land. He's also CNN's pop culture correspondent and a contributing editor at Rolling Stone. His writing has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, Tennis Magazine, The Best American Essays, The Best American Sportswriting, The Best American Erotica, and DaCapo Best American Music Writing.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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This is the most descriptive writing I havethat I have read in a long time.the characters or so colorful and unique.The description os Sould City actually jumps off the page and becomes so real. .I love how he describes the biscuit shop.And you can hear the music on th streets of Soul City as if you are actually there.Toure is a briiiant author.I am a mother of 6 I never get a chance to sit down and finish a book.This is a must read could not put it down.
The storyline had me reading until I was done. I like the way he had the characters doing all these things that had my imagination running wild. I am going to get his other book also! This was like the first book I have read in like 4 years which seems bad being I am 25. GREAT READ!
I just finished ¿Soul City¿ by Toure¿s .A very detailed fictional story. ¿Soul City¿ was not very interesting to me. Even though it was and creative it gave away too much information. I like suspenseful tragic writers that are down to earth. Toure¿s is just an up beat out of this universe kind of guy.
Soul City is where all the action takes place, full of music dancing memory filled biscuits it¿s just crazy. There are music cars and very interesting street names. Still there are almost no white people. Soul City has to make a very important decision, the next mayor. The mayor of the city doesn¿t make any legal decisions they simply pick the music that is played on the city streets. The main character of this great story is Cadillac a reporter for the chocolate city newspaper. He is supposed to be writing an article about the election but gets caught in amusement and love. He first sees this dj at the biscuit shop and stares into space like love at first sight this could mess with his article.
When Cadillac finally decides to talk to her he asks her for an interview and she unhappily agrees. They get into her Billy mobile and drive to lunch where she finds some unusual feelings of her own. Cadillac needed some time to himself and visited the great landmarks of the city.
Toure¿s¿ writing is so detailed and new it is hard to understand. It¿s so clear but so unusual. I recommend this book to many colored people because it can open a new world of culture to most. I wasn¿t happy with the ending because I prefer tragedies then happy endings.
Chocolate City Magazine sends journalist Cadillac Jackson on the soul train to write a short piece on the mayoral election in Soul City. Though his assignment is expected to last three days, Cadillac has ambitions that only residents of the City would have; he plans to write the definitive book on the city with more Mojo than any other in the world. In his opinion others have tried to explain the heart of Soul City, but all have failed................................ Cadillac observes the mayoral race in which the parties serve up their musical platforms, but also sees the undercurrent of antagonism between the rivals in what is the supposed African-American utopia. He sees, hears and tastes the true culture and feels his heart go into palpitations when he meets resident Mahogany Sunflower. However, as Cadillac falls in love, he also realizes evil is undercutting the value of being a black man as thugs, like serpents in Eden, and a billionaire business bogie threaten the well being of the proud black culture tearing at the soul that makes Soul City dance to its own drummer............................... SOUL CITY is an exhilarating allegorical tale that satirizes racial stereotypes through hyperbole. The effervescent well written story line contains an intriguing comparison of a pure ¿cornbread¿ society through the eyes of a white toasted outsider. Ironically, the overstatement jabs the message into the reader¿s face without the swift subtly of A Modest Proposal, but also hooks the audience with its strong spirit to embrace difference............................... Harriet Klausner