How to Make Love to a Negro Without Getting Tired

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  • Edition: Reprint
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2010-10-01
  • Publisher: Douglas & McIntyre Ltd
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Racial and sexual politics collide in this cult classic that launched Laferriere as one of North America's finest literary provocateurs"A heady meditation, a psychic tussle that resonates with the furious stuff in James Baldwin's essays or Louis Armstrong's smiling trumpet or Martin Luther King's oratory honest, brash, unsappy, new." The Village Voice"Sexual politics at its best and most literal. There are layers and layers of meaning to be untangled in this novel. It is at once humorous, profound, ribald and relentlessly didactic." Charlatan"Crackles and snaps with the profane and profound power of Jack Kerouac, Henry Miller James Baldwin and Charles Bukowski." The Edmonton JournalBrilliant and tense, Dany Laferriere's first novel, How to Make Love to a Negro without Getting Tired, is as fresh and relevant today as when it was first published in 1985. With raunchy humor and a working-class intellectualism, Laferriere's narrator wanders the slums of Montreal, has sex with white women, and writes a book to save his life.With this novel, Laferriere began a series of internationally acclaimed social and political novels about the love of the world, and the world of sex, including Heading South and I Am a Japanese Writer.


From Chapter One:I can't believe it, this is the fifth time Bouba's played that Charlie Parker record. He's crazy about jazz, and this must be his Parker period. Last week I had Coltrane for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Now it's Parker's turn. There's only one good thing about this place: you can play Parker or Miles Davis or even a noisier cat like Archie Shepp at three o'clock in the morning (with walls as thin as onionskin paper) without some idiot telling you to turn it down. We're suffocating in the summer heat, jammed in between the Fontaine de Johannie (a roach-ridden restaurant frequented by small-time hoods) and a minuscule topless bar, at 3670 rue St-Denis, right across from Cherrier. An abject one-and-a-half for $120 a month. We're up on the third floor. A narrow room cut lengthwise by a horrible Japanese screen decorated with enormous stylized birds. A fridge in a constant state of palpitation, as if we were holed up above some railroad station. Playboy bunnies thumbtacked to the wall that we had to take down when we got here to avoid the suicidal tendencies those things inevitably cause. A stove with elements as cold as a witch's tit at forty below. And, extra added attraction, the Cross of Mount Royal framed in the window. I sleep on a filthy bed and Bouba made himself a nest on the plucked couch full of mountains and valley. Bouba inhabits it fully. He drinks, reads, eats, meditates and fucks on it. He has married the hills and dales of this cotton-stuffed whore. When we came into possession of this meager pigsty, Bouba settled on the couch with the collected works of Freud, an old dictionary with the letters A through D and part of E missing, and a torn and tattered copy of the Koran. Superficially, Bouba spends all day doing nothing. In reality, he is purifying the universe. Sleep cures us of all physical impurities, mental illness and moral perversion. Between pages of the Koran, Bouba engages in sleep cures that can last up to three days. The Koran, in its infinite wisom, states: 'Every soul shall taste death. You shall receive your rewards only on the Day of Resurrection. Whoever is spared the fire of Hell and is admitted to Paradise shall surely gain his end; for the life of this world is nothing but a fleeting vanity.' (Sura III, 182.) The world can blow itself up if it wants to; Bouba is sleeping. Sometimes his sleep is as strident as Miles Davis' trumpet. Bouba becomes closed upon himself, his face impenetrable, his knees folded under his chin. Other times I find him on his back, his arms forming a cross, his mouth opening onto a black hole, his toes pointed towards the ceiling. The Koran in all its magnanimity says: 'You cause the night to pass into the day, and the day into the night; You bring forth the living from the dead and the dead from the living. You give without stint to whom You will.' (Sura III, 26.) And so Bouba is aiming for a place at the right hand of Alllah (may his holy name be praised). Charlie Parker tears through the night. A heavy, humid, Tristes Tropiques kind of night. Jazz always makes me think of New Orleans, and that makes a Negro nostalgic. Bouba is crashed out on the couch in his usual position (lying on his left side, facing Mecca), sipping Shanghai tea and perusing a volume of Freud. Since Bouba is totally jazz-crazy, and since he recognizes only one guru (Allah is great and Freud is his prophet), it did not take him long to concoct a complex and sophisticated theory the long and short of which is that Sigmund Freud invented jazz. 'In what volume, Bouba?' 'Totem and Taboo, man.' Man. He actually calls me man. 'If Freud played jazz, for Christ's sake, we would have known about it.' Bouba breathes in a mighty lungful of air. Which is what he does every time he deals with a non-believer, a Cartesian, a rationalist, a head-shrinker. The Koran says: 'Wait, then, as they themselves are waiting.' 'You know,' Bouba finally intones, 'you know that SF lived in New York.' 'Of course he did.' 'He could have learned to play trumpet from any tubercular musician in Harlem.' 'It's possible.' 'Do you know what jazz is at least?' 'I can't describe it, but I'd know what it is if I heard it.' 'Good,' Bouba says after a lengthy period of meditation, 'listen to this then.' Then I'm sucked in and swallowed, absorbed, osmosed, drunk, digested and chewed up by a flow of wild words, fantastic hallucinations with paranoid pronunciation, jolted by jazz impulses to the rhythm of Sura incantations -- then I realize that Bouba is performing a syncopated, staccato reading of the unsuspecting pages 68 and 69 of Totem and Taboo.

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