Ricky Rice is a middling hustler with a lingering junk habit, a bum knee, and a haunted mind. A survivor of a suicide cult, he scrapes by as a porter at a bus depot in Utica, New York, until one day a mysterious letter arrives, summoning him to enlist in a band of paranormal investigators comprised of former addicts and petty criminals, all of whom had at some point in their wasted lives heard what may have been the voice of God.
Infused with the wonder of a disquieting dream and laced with Victor LaValle’s fiendish comic sensibility, Big Machine is a mind-rattling mystery about doubt, faith, and the monsters we carry within us.
LaValle has garnered critical acclaim for his previous works (a collection, Slapboxing with Jesus, and novel, The Ecstatic), and his second novel is sure to up his critical standing while furthering comparisons to Haruki Murakami, John Kennedy Toole and Edgar Allan Poe. Gritty, mostly honest-hearted ex-heroin addict protagonist Ricky Rice takes a chance on an anonymous note delivered to him at the cruddy upstate New York bus depot where he works as a porter. Quickly, Ricky finds himself among the Unlikely Scholars, a secret society of ex-addicts and petty criminals, all black like him, living in remote Vermont and sifting through stacks of articles in a library devoted to investigating the supernatural; the existence of a god; and the legacy of Judah Washburn, an escaped slave who claimed to have had contact with a higher being that the Unlikely Scholars now call the Voice. Ricky's intoxicating voice robust, organic, wily is perfect for narrating LaValle's high-stakes mashup of thrilling paranormal and Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man, as the fateful porter something of a modern Odysseus rallied by a team of spiritual X-men wanders through America's messianic hoo-hah.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Rough Cut Diamond
This is a beautiful and, often times, messy read. Its definitely not going to be everyone's cup of tea, but the protagonist's voice was fresh and humorous enough to keep me attached. The 'horror' label is a bit misleading but I'm not quite sure what genre would accurately reflect this story. Definitely worth reading, though be prepared for abrupt breaks and sudden 180's in the plot.
Can't finish it
This book is well- written, and the story is very intriguing in the beginning. I made it about 30% of the way into the story, and frankly, I just got bored. It was moving so slowly and generating too many unanswered questions. On top of that, I just didn't care about the characters enough to wonder how it ends.