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Salsa Nocturna

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Salsa Nocturna (2012) Daniel José Older

This is a collection of intertwined short stories. It doesn’t seem quite so at the beginning, but they are are all more than just set in the same world. The characters are ghosts and ghost hunters and those who can see the dead, and with each story you learn a little more about the world in which these characters live. Which is our world, only with hidden ghosts.

Checking on a possible link to a phantom pachyderm.” I feel stupid saying that, but it sounds better than ‘ghost elephant.’

“Mammuthus primigenius,” says the doctor.
“You tangled with a wooly motherfucking mammoth,” Riley translates.
I order three shots of rum.

I think my favorite character just might be Gordo.

I show up at 9 p.m. on the dot, because Janey said my sloppy Cuban time won’t cut it here so just pretend I’m supposed to be there at 8 and I’ll be alright. And it works.

I also found it very amusing.

This part of Harlem’s mostly white now. Homeless black guys wander aimlessly, pretending they didn’t get the memo to clear the fuck out. Cops wear vindicated grins as they stroll triumphantly up and down the quiet, sunshiny blocks. Comfortable young white people flutter around in sandals and shorts, doing little chores, heading to outdoor cafes, staying casually but carefully within the designated borders of their territory.
“Malcolm X Towers?” Riley scoffs. “Luxury apartments? Are you serious?” We’re standing at the foot of a monstrous glass fortress on Fifth Ave.
“You know ghost Malcolm’s ready to fuck a tower up,” I say.

OK, so there were things that, even after running them through the translator, didn’t make much sense to me.

“Get the fuck out of the way you scrawny hipsters!” Riley screams out the window. “Tell ‘em, Gordo, I don’t think they heard me.”
“¡Comiendo mierda y gastando zapatos!” Gordo yells.
Riley eyes him suspiciously. “Did you say what I said?” “Basically,” Gordo chuckles.

The internet tells me that translates as “Eating shit and spending shoes” and is part of a chant akin to Eeny meeny miney moe.

Which is amusing in and of itself, but still odd.

And some interesting thoughtful bits dropped here and there.

(A) scar isn’t about the injury, it’s about the healing.

If you’re looking for something new to try, I highly recommend this. The stories are good, and stand by themselves, but are also nicely tied together.
Rating: 8.5/10

Published by Crossed Genres Publications




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