Screamin' Jay Hawkins' All-Time Greatest Hits: A Novel

Screamin Jay Hawkins All Time Greatest Hits A Novel Mark Binelli turns his sharp forceful prose to fiction in an inventive retelling of the outrageous life of Screamin Jay Hawkins a bluesman with one hit and a string of inflammatory guisesHe came on

  • Title: Screamin' Jay Hawkins' All-Time Greatest Hits: A Novel
  • Author: Mark Binelli
  • ISBN: 9781627795357
  • Page: 443
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Mark Binelli turns his sharp, forceful prose to fiction, in an inventive retelling of the outrageous life of Screamin Jay Hawkins, a bluesman with one hit and a string of inflammatory guisesHe came on stage in a coffin, carried by pallbearers, drunk enough to climb into his casket every night Onstage he wore a cape, clamped a bone to his nose, and carried a staff toppedMark Binelli turns his sharp, forceful prose to fiction, in an inventive retelling of the outrageous life of Screamin Jay Hawkins, a bluesman with one hit and a string of inflammatory guisesHe came on stage in a coffin, carried by pallbearers, drunk enough to climb into his casket every night Onstage he wore a cape, clamped a bone to his nose, and carried a staff topped with a human skull Offstage, he insisted he d been raised by a tribe of Blackfoot Indians, that he d joined the army at fourteen, that he d defeated the middleweight boxing champion of Alaska, that he d fathered seventy five illegitimate children.The RB wildman Screamin Jay Hawkins only had a single hit, the classic I Put a Spell On You, and was often written off as a clownish novelty act or worse, an offense to his race but his myth making was legendary In his second novel, Mark Binelli embraces the man and the legend to create a hilarious, tragic, fantastical portrait of this unlikeliest of protagonists Hawkins saw his life story as a wild picaresque, and Binelli s novel follows suit, tackling the subject in a dazzling collage like style.At Rolling Stone, Binelli has profiled some of the greatest musicians of our time, and this novel deftly plays with the inordinate focus on authenticity in so much music writing about African Americans An entire novel built around a musician as deliberately inauthentic as Screamin Jay Hawkins thus becomes a sort of subversive act, as well as an extremely funny and surprisingly moving one.

    One thought on “Screamin' Jay Hawkins' All-Time Greatest Hits: A Novel”

    1. Unlike the genres of speculative fiction and alternate histories, where one certainly understands the broader contemplation aroused by playing "what-if" games, I've never really understood the purpose of (or even what is meant by) fictional biographies. The very idea of the genre has a certain creepiness attached to it, like the later historical books by Bob Woodward covering the Bush years, where the author admits to manufacturing White House conversations out of whole cloth. Sure, we all love [...]

    2. Jalacy Hawkins, aka Screaming Jay Hawkins, was born in Cleveland Ohio, in 1929. He is known, for exactly one classic song: “I Put a Spell on You”.This novel, looks at his life, which is filled with the epic mythmaking, Hawkins created for himself, along with his outrageous, stage show. He would arrive on stage, in a coffin, with a bone clamped to his nose.This is an interesting little book, but it has a choppy narrative and it never quite connects, the way I hoped it hoped it would. If this [...]

    3. This is a strange book. It's a fictionalized meditation on aspects of the life of Screamin' Jay Hawkins who is remembered primarily for the song "I Put a Spell On You." Screamin' Jay was perhaps the first cross over rock and roll artist to employ truly outrageous theatrical effects -- being carried on stage in a coffin for example. The overall effect is impressionistic and does not cover his life comprehensively. It's worth reading if your a fan of the "Old Weird America" genre.

    4. Binelli's fact-and-fiction approach in examining the lives of musical figures is not new (try Geoff Dyer's 1995 BUT BEAUTIFUL for an earlier, deeper, and more poetic example), but he puts it to work nicely in this irreverent, breezy attempt to plumb the depths of the Jalacy Hawkins enigma. I didn't know a guy with this much style wrote for ROLLING STONE (well, there's Taibbi).

    5. This title is quite different from what I usually read. I am a pretty eclectic sort, too. It is pretty quirky and I do have a fondness for quirk :) So it gets 4 stars.

    6. “Screamin' Jay Hawkins' All-Time Greatest Hits: A Novel” is a colorful exciting biographical music novel with a flair of supernatural intrigue, authored by Mark Binelli. The contributing editor of Rolling Stone and Men’s Journal, Bindelli’s work has been featured in the NYT and other notable publications, he has authored novels and bestselling non-fiction about Detroit, Michigan where he was raised and currently resides in New York.There was a note found with the infant abandoned at the [...]

    7. This book was a brilliantly put together collection of stories about the life of Jalacy Hawkins. Initially, I began thinking that it was a biography, even though the front said novel, but I realized that how Jay lived was the part that was supposed to be fiction. Jay Hawkins in notorious for something called self mythologizing, where he would make up stories about himself. Like how he was raised by wolves in the woods until he was 8, or how he fathered 76 children, or how he could talk to birds. [...]

    8. This is a rather experimental fictional biography of one of the world's biggest storytellers and most unknowable musicians, Screaming Jay Hawkins. Binelli puts his journalism background to good use and the known facts of Hawkins' life shine through as we move through childhood, military service, years on the road, brief stardom, jail time, and obscurity (not necessarily in that order). The tone is pitched just right for a biographical novel on Rock and Roll's own wild man, and the change in tone [...]

    9. Fascinating, hilarious, and quite sad all at once. Parts of the narrative were about as surreal as expected, but only parts. Only a few segments a bit after the middle struck me as the kind of reality bending weirdness the synopsis promised. For the most part, the book reads as a standard biography of a famous person, that duly debunks a number of myths and assumptions about the man. All in all, an interesting portrait of an interesting artist that tries hard to include everything, even those fa [...]

    10. Screamin’ Jay Hawkins was an early pioneer of the “shock rock” style of performing, during his prime he would be carried onto the stage in a closed coffin from which he would emerge and begin performing, often adding aspects of magic or voodoo into his stage act. He came from an era when entertainers often “embellished” or, just as often, completely created their own biographical backstory from half-truths or complete fiction. Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ All-Time Greatest Hits by Mark B [...]

    11. I received an advance reading copy of this book, for free, through First Reads program in exchange for my honest review.Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ All-Time Greatest Hits: A Novel, by Mark Binelli, is an odd tale about an odd character. The titular Screamin’ Jay Hawkins was the quintessential one-hit wonder. His one hit song, “I Put a Spell on You”, is an instantly recognizable classic. It has been covered by hundreds of artists, most notably Creedence Clearwater Revival and Nina Simone. A [...]

    12. My high school boyfriend owned Screamin' Jay Hawkins' Greatest Hits album and so it never occurred to me that he really only ever had one hit. The book mentions, but also mostly sidesteps, the part where he's actually famous, focusing mostly on the before parts and the after parts. It's a quick read, too, not unlike some of the 33 1/3 books I've read. (Picked this one up randomly whilesnning the New Fiction shelf at the library; I hadn't heard anything But it before.)

    13. A creative combination of bio material and imagined events, encountersTES:--A string of inflammatory guises.--2 epilogues, Bill Broonzy & Montaigne (The cannibals wore no breeches.)--fog of war joined army at 14 penchant for self-mythologizing--12 Blues is an artful contrivance--25 Feast your eyes, gloat your soul, on my accursed ugliness! Lon Chaney in the Phantom of the Opera 1925 (cf Maurice Tillet)--31 Weissmuller & Eleanor Holm Jarrett, champion Olympic swimmers (search for Weiss [...]

    14. Jay Hawkins wasn’t called “Screamin’” for nothing. Outlandishly dressed and carried onstage in a casket, his operatic screams and moans during his only hit (the classic “I Put A Spell on You”) tapped into rock and roll’s early energy. This equally energetic and freewheeling historical fiction follows the arc of his life: an African-American adopted by a Native American family, conservatory student, WWII veteran, boxer, and finally, performer with one hit to sustain him. Hawkins, to [...]

    15. While "Screamin' Jay Hawkins All-Time Greatest Hits" is clearly labeled a novel, it's really an impressionistic biography. After an opening riff on Hawkin's thoughts while inside his coffin (he began his shows carried onstage by a team of pallbearers), it starts looking like a normal biography.What follows are a series of vignettes taken from different stages of Hawkin's life (adopted misfit in Cleveland, underage WWII soldier, driver for Tiny Grimes, profligate womanizer (75 children!), novelty [...]

    16. This book presented a conundrum: if you knew the subject matter, you really didn't need to read the book, and if you googled the subject matter, the author unfortunately did not add a lot of additional information. I grant that it would be difficult to fictionalize the life of a historical figure, but this was too close to a documentary which left me craving a story instead of an organized biography.

    17. This book never decides whether it's a biography or a novel, and so for me it fails at both. If you know which parts are real, you don't need to read the book; if you don't, it's just baffling. It started out herky-jerky and got worse. By the end I felt as if the author and editor just gave up and rushed it off to press.

    18. Hard to understandI knew Jay and he had a crazy life. But this book seems a little schizophrenic. Jay had some great stories, true, untrue or exaggerations, but he was a rock pioneer. There is no James Brown, Alice Cooper, or even Kiss without Jay and what he did in the fifties. This book misses the boat.

    19. Complete misfire imo. Unfocused, clumsily pieced together book that could have been a fascinating statement on, well, anything rather than the mess it is. Jay Hawkins is fascinating, but this book is not.

    20. This quirky book reminds me of a number of novels I read in the 90s. Fact, fiction, speculation, entertainment! Recommended.

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