This is an overdue book review that I have finally done.
Blacktop Wasteland is the story of Beauregard or Bug for short. A man who knew his way around cars – how to drive and repair them.
He had lived the ‘life’ and left it behind to create a family with his partner and run a mechanic business.
But the pressures of life meant that he needed money urgently to meet his business and family needs. Including paying for his mother’s stay in an older people’s home. Especially when a glossy, showy rival opened up nearby and took most of his regulars.
Bug felt his back was to the wall and started looking for a way to pay the bills. When Ronnie Sessions, a self-proclaimed white trash, came with a proposition to rob a jewellery store and steal raw diamonds, it seemed too good to be true. But they had insider information from Ronnie’s girlfriend, and Bug, who is a meticulous planner, worked out a great plan and was also the getaway driver.
The robbery went ahead, but one of their trigger-happy partners, Quan, got carried away. And although they managed to steal the diamonds, they left a trail of the wounded and dead.
A ruthless gangster
What they did not realise was that the diamonds belonged to a cold and ruthless local gangster who tracked them down. He gave them an ultimatum: carry out a dangerous heist job, or he would kill Bug’s family.
It all went downhill from there.
Blacktop Wasteland deserved every accolade. S A’s s language was spare, rich, cinematic, and full of metaphor.
In Bug, we have an antihero, unafraid of violence and killing as he went along to save himself, but we still rooted for him.
This book does not flinch from the issues of life, especially one as a black man in American South.
I am a firm S A Cosby fan, so I am off to read my copy of Razor Blade Tear and his latest, All The Sinners Bleed, which has been longlisted for The Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence 2024