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Ride Around Shiningby Chris Leslie-Hynan
Synopses & Reviews
A provocative debut novel about a young white chauffeur and his wealthy black employer, an NBA player — a twenty-first century inversion of what we've come to expect stories of race and class to look like, and a discomfiting portrait of envy and obsession.
Ride Around Shining concerns the idle preoccupations, and later machinations, of a transplanted Portlander named Jess — a nobody from nowhere with a Masters degree and a gig delivering takeout. He parlays the latter, along with a few lies, into a job as a chauffeur for an up-and-coming Trail Blazer named Calyph West and his young wife, Antonia.
Calyph is black and Antonia is white and Jess becomes fascinated, innocuously at first, by all they are that he is not. In striving to make himself indispensable to them, he causes Calyph to have a season-ending knee injury, then brings about the couples estrangement, before positioning himself at last as their perverse savior.
In the tradition of The Talented Mr. Ripley, The Great Gatsby, and Harold Pinter's The Servant — not to mention a certain Shakespeare play about a creepy white dude obsessed with a black dude — Ride Around Shining tries to say the unsayable about white fixation on black culture, particularly black athletic culture, something so common in everyday life it has gone all but unaddressed.
“Ride Around Shining is a West Coast, twenty-first-century Gatsby, warped through the lenses of race and class, and similarly obsessed with those very American anxieties of money, ambition and authenticity. This is the best and one of the bravest novels I've read in years.” Benjamin Hale
“R.A.S. is brilliant. Sure, its about ballers and their chauffeurs, and fame and wealth and celebrity and race. But its subversive soul is interested only in one thing: the hunger, both yours and mine, to swallow the world whole. It feels like an instant classic.” Joshua Ferris, author of To Rise Again at a Decent Hour
“Brilliant debut.” Will Blythe
"Ride Around Shining lays claim to being an interesting novel on its own terms, offering some fresh takes on those big American topics of race, class, manhood and meritocracy...a rousing affirmation of American possibility." Maureen Corrigan, Fresh Air with Terry Gross
"It's hard to believe Ride Around Shining exists...it's a provocative, bracing, and totally singular look at how white entitlement can fester in the face of black accomplishment." Portland Mercury
"A smart, sad, funny, beautifully voiced, and precisely detailed investigation of the particularly American collision of race, sex, money, and vicariousness." David Shields, author of Black Planet
About the Author
Chris Leslie-Hynan is originally from Wisconsin and received his MFA in fiction from the Iowa Writers' Workshop in 2008. He lives in Portland. This is his first book.
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