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For me, this seems to be a major flaw in these kinds of books. Then again, all of us can name what appears to be instances in which "lunatic While at the library looking for a new author, a book I've never heard of, I pulled this off the shelf and without reading the book jacket blurbs, I just dived right in. Then again, all of us can name what appears to be instances in which "lunatics are running the asylum. Personally, I try to avoid the "news".
So maybe that is LaValle's point: our narrator. Anthony, might just be as sane or insane as the rest of us. This is a one-sitting read, and I enjoyed it, hence my three-star rating. Oh, now that I've finished the book and read the jacket blurbs, comparing "The Ecstatic" to the abysmal "Confederacy of Dunces" is very unfair, as "Ecstatic" is far better. And I think "Dunces" even won a Pulitizer or some huge award. Must have been a very weak year for non-fiction, imho. Jun 09, Bill rated it really liked it.
Get to know: Ecstatic
Overall,I really enjoyed this book - it was crisply written, compelling, and had a great undertone of "going sane in a crazy world. LaValle's Anthony James is kind of a hybrid of the two, yet brings together the best of both worlds. I guess my only big critique of the book as a whole is that, for my taste, it lacked over-archi Overall,I really enjoyed this book - it was crisply written, compelling, and had a great undertone of "going sane in a crazy world. I guess my only big critique of the book as a whole is that, for my taste, it lacked over-arching story, and read more like a collection of vignettes involving the same characters.
Other than that, it was a really enjoyable read, and each individual section or sub-plot really jumped off the page. LaValle is a talented writer and does a wonderful job of balancing the real with the not-quite real to make for an overall entertaining read. View 1 comment. Oct 08, Josh rated it really liked it. Another fantastic novel by Victor LaValle. Jan 27, Foxy! And, I suspect, none of these were the intent of the author, which I will discuss later. The first aspect of the book that remains with me above everything else is the section on the duelling pageants in which Nabisase will participate.
They serve as the heart of the book and where most of the action takes place. Though Anthony and his family have personal tragedy, what with various family members suffering from mental illness, they own these hardships rather than letting these tribulations own them, thus giving them a sense of triumph and perseverance that might be lacking in others.
In fact, the thirteen-year-old Nabisase owns her sexuality, and later in the book pursues an older man with the sexual dedication of one ready to explore. It is just what you do to get through to support a family member. Overall, this section of the book, is entertaining, lively, and aptly portrays a family trying to get by. This portrayal of the family is what brought me to the second most memorable part of the book, which was the believability of the grandmother and the action surrounding her. With a diminutive ninety-something grandmother of my own, I found it quite unbelievable that anyone would strap her to their back and walk around, whether or not they were overweight.
In this book, the grandmother is carried around by both the overweight Anthony and by the thirteen year-old Nabisase. Maybe a large man might carry around his grandmother, strapped to his back, maybe….. A small complaint, yes. Despite this stretch of the imagination, it still made for several funny scenes. Finally, I come to Uncle Arms, who is by far the most interesting character and the third aspect of the book that remains with me. He is a charlatan of the first order, who has adopted the affected persona of an uneducated Southern gentleman with a near-unintelligible drawl.
Meant to remind his audience of the antebellum South and the subservient behavior of one descended from slaves, Uncle Arms uses both his race and his diminutive stature, to hide the fact that he is actually descended from one of the few black aristocratic families from the Old South. Oddly enough, this felt like what should have been the heart of the book and this dip into race and class could have been explored more. However, it seemed as if LaValle actually intended to highlight obesity and mental illness rather than race and class. With the focus so much on obesity and mental illness, to some degree the question of mental illness, in particular, was still left unresolved.
Again, was this intentional? If so, I would have liked to have a little more resolution. Several times throughout The Ecstatic, I found myself literally laughing out loud, chuckling to myself, or re-reading various parts because they were funny. Nov 14, Melisa rated it really liked it.
This earlier work of LaValle's is not quite like his later, more supernatural novels, but is still pretty unhinged. The narrator is a morbodly obese young man who hails from a small crazed family and may be crazed himself. A parade of bizarre things happen, like a rally of vegans, beauty pageants, and stray-dog attacks, but it flows together seamlessly with LaValle's flawless wiring.
Feb 12, Nancy Oakes rated it really liked it Shelves: american-fiction. As I was first reading this book I thought it was an Ignatius J. Reilly clone story. Far from it! This is actually an outstanding piece of original literature, told from the point of view of the main character, Anthony James, who has just flunked out of Cornell University, lives in a hellhole of a basement apartment, wears colored suits green and purple are but two examples and weighs pounds at age He comes from a family with a history of mental illness; Anthony himself is probably sch As I was first reading this book I thought it was an Ignatius J.
He comes from a family with a history of mental illness; Anthony himself is probably schizophrenic, often thinking long monologues in his head but realizing when he comes to the end that he has just given voice to his thoughts. Mom, his sister and grandmother all live together in a house in New York where they bring Anthony to live after rescuing him from a possible lapse into mental illness after his Cornell episode.
Mom is beholden to a loan shark, Ishkabibble; Sis is 13 and really is embarrassed by her family -- she enters a pageant in Virginia for "Miss Innocence" where the contestants are those who have managed to keep their virginity; Grandma is in her 90s and can't believe how the family has turned out.
A lot of weird and frankly bizarre things happen in this novel which I cannot even begin to describe; but all and all, it is a novel about family. It is funny, sad, and just weird in places. I absolutely loved each and every character down to the guy who wants to be thin so badly he eats bad salmon to get tapeworms. I would recommend this novel to serious readers who don't need the standard lines of plot development to enjoy a good read. Jan 07, Steph rated it really liked it. I want to give this a 3. I wasn't a big fan of a few scenes and at times, it was hard to figure out whether the scene was actually happening or if Anthony was imaging things someone who has read this PLEASE tell me if the movie theater part was actual or his imagination.
But I think that's the good thing about this book Pretty good book if you can get past the sometime slowness. View all 3 comments. I expected to like this better than I did. Lots of things happen, but it didn't feel like anything was pushing them to happen. But since it was an interview with LaValle about his forthcoming book that got me reading this one, I'm not giving up.
I hope next time he reads as well in the pages as he does on the jacket flap. Mar 03, Bennett rated it really liked it. I really liked this. Completely unique. Strong and completely vivid writing. It reminds me of a terrific independent film none of your friends have heard of. Really well done. I loved The Changeling, his lasted novel. In the 15 years between this, his first novel, and his latest, he has clearly become a very fine novelist. What I loved about The Changeling, however, was in too short supply in his first attempt. Like clarity, for instance. I never understood what the point of this story was often lost as to the purpose of scenes and what they were building towards.
Like pacing. This novel dragged a lot for me, and many a time it was only the playfulness of the sentences that got me past one page to the next.
Like characterization. The one thing I enjoyed was the humor and the writing. Looking forward to his novellas especially. Feb 12, Lindsey rated it liked it. I wanted to like this book Victor LaValle is a favorite but I just couldn't get into it. I didn't like the main character. Actually, I didn't like any of the characters. I just had a really difficult time connecting to this story or staying interested in how it would progress at all.
The speech was disjointed and confusing, which I can kind of forgive since the main character is possibly schizophrenic. The plot is a little uneven, too. Maybe this book speaks to someone else, and I really wish I wanted to like this book Victor LaValle is a favorite but I just couldn't get into it. Maybe this book speaks to someone else, and I really wish I had gotten more out of it because I did try.
Obviously, I feel kind of conflicted- I still give it 3 stars, but that's all for LaValle's always-wonderful style and twisted creativity. Otherwise, it left me feeling a little disappointed. Jul 26, Rich Engel rated it really liked it. Anthony is rescued from a college town where he failed out and is falling apart, to his home neighborhood in Queens and a multigenerational household. But that's what it is.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Licence. If you choose to use this review on your site please link back to this page. This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Find out more about page archiving. Home Clips. Released Links Wikipedia article on The Ecstatic Reviews available at www. Huff later wrote. It's machine-like how things are run in hip-hop now, and my ambitions are different To me the job of an artist is to provide a useful and intelligent vocabulary for the world to be able to articulate feelings they experience every day. Mos Def worked with producers Mr.
For "Life in Marvelous Times", Mr. Flash reused the beat from "Champions"—his collaboration with the French hip hop group TTC —while "History" used a beat produced by J Dilla before his death. Mos Def and Preservation altered one of the band's songs—"Casa Forte", an instrumental featuring their characteristic blend of funk , jazz , soul , and Brazilian rhythms —and used it as the beat.
According to him, he tried to enlist rappers Jay Electronica , Black Thought , and Trugoy for the song, but they all found it too difficult to rap over the instrumental. She said Mos Def "borrowed" the song for The Ecstatic after they met through a mutual friend. He said 'I wanna grab that. He just wanted that song. He snatched it up real quick", she recalled in laughter.
The Ecstatic covers an international range of styles in a very loose and extemporaneous manner, held together by what Rabin described as "a lyrical and sonic fascination with life beyond the Western World". According to The Independent ' s Simmy Richman, The Ecstatic ' s Eastern-influenced musical backdrop was reflective of Mos Def's "post- War on Terror " themes; Richman called it a conscious rap record, and No Ripcord ' s Ryan Faughnder regarded the music as "socially conscious alternative hip-hop". African-American studies and media scholar Sohail Daulatzai believed The Ecstatic is informed by Black internationalist politics and Pan-Islamic ideas, while State magazine's Niall Byrne said it explores the theme of international relations on songs such as the Middle Eastern -influenced "The Embassy" and "Auditorium", which features an Iraq -themed guest rap by Slick Rick.
Throughout The Ecstatic , Mos Def alternates between what AllMusic 's Andy Kellman called nonsensical yet intellectual raps and "seemingly nonchalant, off-the-cuff boasts", set against eccentric, lightly reverbed productions. On "Roses", Muldrow sings nature-friendly lyrics about drawing flowers in times of sadness rather than plucking them from the ground. So draw them and let the roses come from inside. The Ecstatic was titled after Victor LaValle 's dark humor novel. The airplane, a nutty idea. The telephone, the Internet. People who envisioned those were considered radical or extreme.
The Ecstatic was packaged with few liner notes and a two-sheet booklet featuring a photo of Mos Def taken using the Photo Booth software application. The Ecstatic was released by Downtown on June 9, It featured Jay Electronica as his opening act , and certain shows were co-headlined with Kweli and singer Erykah Badu. This was followed by his first headlining tour of Australia in January and a short series of April concerts in the United Kingdom. The Ecstatic was met with widespread critical acclaim. At Metacritic , which assigns a normalized rating out of to reviews from mainstream publications, the album received an average score of 81, based on 28 reviews.
In The New Yorker , The Ecstatic was hailed as Mos Def's "most conceptually knotty and ambitious work", while Aaron wrote in Spin that the "internationalist return to form" was also "perhaps his liveliest work". Some reviewers were less impressed. Rolling Stone critic Christian Hoard found the quality of the songs inconsistent, while Slant Magazine ' s Eric Henderon claimed much of the music lacked song structure and "careened wildly, free from the constraints of chorus and verse".
At the end of , The Ecstatic was named one of the year's 10 best albums; according to Acclaimed Music , it was the 24th most prominently ranked record on critics' year-end lists. It finished at numbers 27 and on similar lists published by Rhapsody and Rock's Backpages , respectively. It showcased a collection of photos taken by Cognito—a longtime hip hop documentarian and colleague of Mos Def—capturing the rapper during the two years spent making and promoting The Ecstatic.
Mos Def: The Ecstatic
A series of "posse shots" taken at the end of concerts from the American tour were also displayed, showing the rapper with Jay Electronica, Kweli, Badu, and musician Shuggie Otis , who made an unexpected appearance during the tour. The timing of the exhibition was meant to capitalize on Mos Def's two nominations for the Grammy Awards, which were being held that week, Cognito explained: "I thought it was a perfect time to honor his presence while he's here.
We've had a lot of our greats pass away in the past couple of years, be it Dilla or Bataan [ sic ], or whoever, and now everybody wants to talk 'Dilla Dilla Dilla' or whatever, but you weren't saying that while he was alive. Let's praise our heroes while they're alive. He challenged himself to remix the rest of the record, taking more than a year, as a project called The REcstatic , working with Jan Fairchild, the original album's mixing engineer.
Credits are adapted from Downtown Music. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. On "Auditorium", Mos Def raps about daily struggles and global politics over a Middle Eastern -influenced instrumental produced by Madlib. You're living at a time of extremism, a time of revolution, a time when there's got to be a change.
People in power have misused it. And now there has to be a change and a better world has to be built and the only way it's going to be built is with extreme methods. And I, for one, will join in with anyone. I don't care what color you are, as long as you want to change this miserable condition that exists on this earth. Thank you. Fernando Aponte — engineering Danny Betancourt — engineering Josh Blair — additional vocal engineering Matt De Sando — additional vocal engineering Sayyd Droullard — additional engineering Jan Fairchild — engineering, mixing Josh Grant — additional engineering Bernie Grundman — mastering Zach Hancock — additional engineering Myron Kingsbury — assistant engineering Talib Kweli — vocals Georgia Anne Muldrow — engineering, piano, production, vocals The Neptunes — production Madlib — production Mos Def — arrangement, production, vocals Mr.
Flash — production Oh No — production Preservation — arrangement, production Slick Rick — vocals Ben Yonas — additional vocal engineering. John ; Patrin Aaron, Charles Archived from the original on June 16, Retrieved June 13, The Urban Daily. Retrieved June 4, Triple J. Retrieved June 6, Retrieved August 29, The New Yorker. Acclaimed Music.