HELLO, gentle reader!
Remember when I made that vow to read more books written by authors of color? Well…here is the first book in the #AOCRead2015. Half-Resurrection Blues by Daniel Jose Older.
I’m not absolutely sure of when I became aware of Daniel Jose Older, but I’m sure it wasn’t because of his fiction writing. That’s not to say he isn’t tremendously talented in that arena, but a quick google search will render several articles on various topics, including diversity in literature and media (an issue near and dear to me). I didn’t read any of his fiction until he and Rose Fox began collecting submissions for their anthology Long Hidden and that was how Salsa Nocturna and Carlos Delacruz came into my life.
I’d be the first to admit that I’m not hugely into sci-fi. I’m more of a Star Trek, Star Wars, paranormal, sci-fi *light* kinda gal. Meaning, I like some alternate universe, alternate reality stuff, but I prefer stories that don’t get too fantastical. My favorite sub-genre of sci-fi is urban fantasy which is defined as stories set in contemporary times that contain supernatural elements. Half-Resurrection Blues fits this description neatly.
Set in modern day Brooklyn, HRB is grounded in a familiar urban setting. When I was younger, like middle school age, my family lived in upstate New York. During the holidays we visited our New York City cousins. They lived in Brooklyn near Fulton street…it’s been so long since I’ve visited, but the pulse of that neighborhood is still a vibrant memory. That is the Brooklyn Older crafts in Half Resurrection Blues. It’s everything I miss about living in an urban environment. The solidity of being a pedestrian. Two feet on the ground, the crush of humanity, a feeling of anonymity, but a larger feeling of being part of a neighborhood and a shared commonality. This is something that I have yet to find anywhere in suburbia. It’s a difficult concept to explain, but Daniel nailed it in the first page.
Carlos Delacruz is an unlikely hero. Half dead zombie, vampire (…?) he is, for lack of a better word, an officer for the law–a supernatural law enforcer for the New York Council of the Dead. A job he abhors and loves in equal measure. Armed with his Malaguenas, flask of rum and heightened senses, gifts of his undead status, he protects the entradas, gateways to the underworld.
Older’s writing is sometimes gritty, sometimes gutter. Sometimes lyrical and damn romantic. It was nothing I expected and everything I wanted. I eagerly await the next.