READERS TELL ALL.
I vacillate. Some days I want to say, "Shawn is my best friend" because let's be real, that's everyone's dream. I want to shake some people when they say he was "discovered" and don't recognize that everything he's ever written, including his writing prior to Blacktop Wasteland, was amazing. I have very rarely been able to read a book so many times when it deals with mortuaries, as I won't even eat on the same street as a funeral home. However, this book, Razorblade Tears, serves as more than a fine follow up to Blacktop Wastleland, and a worthy addition to his own canon, but it's possibly Cosby's best work yet. When I read the description initially about a black father and grandfather avenging the murders of their gay sons, two different races from two different backgrounds, I almost gasped. That kind of gasp when you're like wow, I didn't think of this? Or more like, How could anyone think of this but Shawn? Yes, there are some downsides to the book, like the cliched setup you may see by the time you reach the end, but no one is writing about race or any topical issue as critical and necessary as SA Cosby. This book was something I didn't just read while walking, but if there was a traffic stop with no end in sight, I pulled it out. If I was unable to find anything to do for a few minutes (or looking for a few minutes to spare), I read this book. I took this book with me nearly everywhere, and I passed through an extremely difficult and also divine period in my life remind gate novel in the city where it is set. If you need more background on the novel: the world is fucked. If you need more background: most writers penning The Great American Novel About Civil Rights cannot write for shit, but Cosby is one of the grand exceptions, and someone who can occupy the mindset and roles of others outside himself in ways nearly no other author can, other than fellow powerhouses Laura Lippman, Attica Locke, Steph Cha, Megan Abbott, and a few others. He is able to access the idea of an interracial gay couple being murdered (and make them human, make them more than victims, and not create some grand scheme in order for us to understand how fucked it is they were killed for being gay and two different races in love) and also the mindsets of these people, of the people who hate them (while still astonishing in his ability to make them almost seem human), the development of the white grandfather/father who is so incredibly diverse and reminds me of a backcountry character ripped out of an alternate version of the script of Terms of Endearment, the film, which is honestly one of the greatest compliments I can give. Ike, arguably the protagonist in the novel (in film school we are forced to challenge ourselves and each other and decide who THE protagonist of a novel or film is, and ourselves to choose one, even if the book or movie passes as a sot of buddy novel, as does this one). There's so much weight in this novel. There's so much humor. The novel is a masterclass on escalating tension, maintaining suspense, building grand characters, and destroying expectations of any and every reader. It's a book you should not miss, and yes, I did recommend it to a studio as a good version of No Country for Old Men. These are country people, black and white. They are the people I knew and grew up with--my black best friend, a successful businesswoman no one ever immediately realizes is a lawyer. My malicious family members (I won't mention which side of my family but I'm sure you can guess), who justify hate, who have defended the KKK, but who weren't rich enough to join the KKK (something I always laugh about, even if it sounds horrible--the fact that they weren't only viciously defensive of the KKK, but that the KKK treats itself as a sort of country club for white men who hate everyone else). Cosby has provided an outlet for me, a gay man involved in an interracial engagement that eventually led to its own demise in a different sort of violence, striking home in a way that is so hard to describe and believe, but trust me, you'll want to read this book to find out why. There is no post-racist America. That's like saying there was ever a pre-racist America. This goes for homophobia, sexism, transphobia, and so many other forms of hate we are just in recent years starting to say, "Hey, that's not OK to talk about in that way," better yet in Cosby's case where he takes this career that keeps rising and escalating and building on his own pure talent and provide a socially controversial and important novel and--best reason to buy the novel yet--he doesn't let his readers down. He's someone I hope will allow me to interview him again in the (very near) future, and he's someone who everyone should read. If Blacktop Wasteland was the breakthrough Max Max film for Cosby, consider this motherfucking Fury Road with its own unique, troubled, and at many times triumphant protagonist Ike. You won't forget him. So here's to SA Cosby, and you can preorder Razorblade Tears and his other novels here. I do not believe My Darkest Prayer is listed here for some reason, so find that too. Immediately.