Ein Berliner

The Village Voice recently caught up with Paul Beatty, whose new novel, Slumberland, hasn’t been getting as much attention as I’d expected. Granted, one of its central scenes revolves around a porn flick involving untoward treatment chicken, but it’s a great seriocomic glimpse of cultural and racial splits, as chronicled by an American in Berlin. Beatty had spent a year in the city back in the ’90s, but Slumberland was more closely inspired by the amazing story of Henry Grimes, a top-shelf jazz bassist who was missing and presumed dead by some until a few years back:

Asked if Stone reminded him of anyone in particular, Beatty throws out some guesses, saying that the character owes something to both his mother and father: “Also, I got the idea from this guy, Henry Grimes. He used to play bass for Albert Ayler, then disappeared for a long time. A friend of mine sent me an article from Wired about a guy who tracked him down—Grimes was living in some SRO in L.A. I always love it when people say: ‘Fuck it, I’m gone!’ “

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