Saturday, March 6, 2021

Black Buck by Mateo Askaripour

Rating: 2.5 of 5 stars
Pages: 381 pages
Published: January 2021

I am disappointed to report that it took me a long two weeks to complete Black Buck by Mateo Askaripour. A debut novel about a young black man currently working at one of my favorite places but also searching for himself and striving for success as eventually finds himself in a sales role in bumbling New York City.  

The book opens with Darren Vender living in a Bed-Stuy brownstone with his widowed mother surrounded and supported by his close-knit community. A chance encounter with an exectuive from the top floor of the building where Darren works as a Starbucks barista lands him the opportunity of a lifetime at a start-up company run by that executive. From there Darren transforms into Buck, and the story quickly moves from one unrealistic scenario to another ultimately falling flat. 

While I did appreciate the nods to the culture and how music was incorporated in the first half of the book, I didn't really like the premise of a novel as a sales manual. If I wanted to read a sales manual or a motivational book on how to become a salesperson, I would have done just that - not purchased a novel disguised as one. I think the biggest issue for me was the treatment of women in general, but especially women of color, as characters in the book. They were grossly underdeveloped. And the cherry on top was Soraya being depicted as his ever-devoted girlfriend even though Buck treated her and her father so horribly. I'm all about forgiveness, but I just don't see how any real woman could have forgotten his behavior in the first half of the book to the point that she stuck with him in the end. (Note: This isn't a spoiler. If interested, you'd have to read the book to understand where Buck lands at the end to get my point.) 

Recommendation: I like giving debut authors a chance, especially often overlooked authors of color, and I'm glad I gave Askaripour a chance and read his book all the way through, even the acknowledgements. This book was not my cup of tea (or cup of joe), but he promises his next one won't be anything like this one. So, who knows, I might give his next novel a try.

Until next time ... Read on!

Regardless of whether I purchase a book, borrow a book, or receive a book in exchange for review, my ultimate goal is to be honest, fair, and constructive. I hope you've found this review helpful.


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