Tuff: A Novel
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As fast-paced and hard-edged as the Harlem streets it portrays, Tuff shows off all of the amazing skill that Paul Beatty showed off in his first novel, The White Boy Shuffle.
Weighing in at 320 pounds, Winston “Tuffy” Foshay, is an East Harlem denizen who breaks jaws and shoots dogs and dreams of millions from his idea Cap’n Crunch: The Movie, starring Danny DeVito. His best friend is a disabled Muslim who wants to rob banks, his guiding light is an ex-hippie Asian woman who worked for Malcolm X, and his wife, Yolanda, he married from jail over the phone. Shrewdly comical as this dazzling novel is, it turns acerbically sublime when the frustrated Tuffy agrees to run for City Council. Smartly irreverent and edgily fierce, Tuff is a bona fide original.
asked. “Light a match.” Holding trays of lukewarm burgers in wax paper and brimming with more jealousy than they’d care to admit, Winston’s boys chided him into hastening his mack. “Let’s be out, Chubbsy Ubbsy.” “Oh, Miss Crabtree, I have something heavy on my heart.” “You going to have something heavy on your lip in a minute.” “Baby girl going to have something heavy on her lap in minute.” Winston struggled to resist the gravitational pull of his boys. He didn’t want to succumb to the
Fariq’s friends called him Smush because his nose, lips, and forehead shared the same Euclidean plane, giving him a profile that had all the contours of a cardboard box. Each herky-jerky step undulated Fariq’s body toward Winston like a Slinky, alternately coiling and uncoiling. A solid-gold dollar-sign pendant and a diamond-inlaid ankh whipped about his neck in an elliptical orbit like a jewel-encrusted satellite. Fariq stopped next to the doorjamb, tilted his head to the side, and cut his
“Finders keepers, losers weepers.” “Christ, everybody and they mama got a hustle. Give me the gun.” The girl scrunched her face and backed even further into the corner, sticking her tongue out again. Winston walked up to the girl and took the gun from her hands, then lifted her to her feet by the elbow. “Go home.” She skipped down the hall to her apartment, the door opened, and a thin hand reeled her inside by the hem of her dress. The door slammed shut. Winston waited for the click of the
when you don’t even vote.” Having reached the top of Winston’s head, Jordy planted a flag of saliva on the bristly peak. “I vote,” Winston said, wiping the top of his head with a napkin. “Who you voted for?” “Voted for president.” “The one we got now?” “Fuck I look like? I walked in the booth, looked at the bullshit candidates, and said to the lady at the desk, ‘What if I don’t like none of these motherfuckers runnin’?’ She gave me a big ol’ ballot and said I could write in whoever I
Winston laughed, “Because you can’t have two crippled motherfuckers in the same room. Don’t think when the handicap van pulls up in front of the center I don’t see you trying to stare down the deaf and retarded waterhead niggers.” “Very funny, son. But I’m sayin’, if it’s a handicap in the movies, he’s a bank-robbing mastermind.” Nadine shushed Fariq. “Be quiet, Smush, you trippin’?” “My shit,” Fariq apologized, quickly setting about covering his slip by harassing Antoine. “Hey, Antoine,