Star Bryan – Jerry Rabushka (Rebel Satori Press)

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Buy it now from Rebel Satori Press

I’m surprised that more musicians
aren’t prose writers. The two vocations have many similarities. At their base,
they both take existing alphabets (not having any musical talent, I have to
think of linguistic metaphors) and arrange them for an aesthetic effect. The
tools used are completely different, but the processes are a lot alike. And
it’s no surprise that Jerry Rabushka, author of the Rebel Satori release Star
Bryan
, is a jazz musician. Because this is a jazz book.

Star Bryan, son of a longtime
high-profile St. Louis alderman, was a big shot college basketball player who
never made it to the pro leagues. Settling into a career as a lawyer and a
passionless relationship with a white boyfriend, he shakes up his life and
leaves Brad. Much to his family’s disapproval, he picks up with a jailbird
ghetto thug named Hendrick (aka Scrapdawg), who helps him coach a neighborhood
youth basketball league. Hendrick, however, is an angry, jealous, violent loose
cannon—and even worse, one of the league players falls in love with Star as
well.

This is where the jazz comes in,
because Rabushka’s prose has a deliciously different cadence. While adhering to
the main plot melody, he spins off into altogether delightful solos, especially
during Star’s internal monologues. It has rhythm, counterpoint, and thoughtful
improvisation. Rabushka’s dialogue is also wonderful—no surprise from an
award-winning playwright.

But all this would mean less than
nothing without a framework for Rabushka to riff from, and the plot has some
intriguing twists and turns, especially an old family trunk which yields a
slave diary that reveals the Bryan family was given slaves of their own by a
white landowner grateful for a Bryan saving his daughter’s life. But they kept
them as slaves and did not free them. Worse, Star’s sister Arielle has been
posting excerpts from the diary on her blog, embarassing the family and
endangering her father’s position.

Rabushka’s characters are also
well-drawn; not just Star but his thug boyfriend Scrapdawg who seems like a
good fit at first but ends up being more of a liability in Star’s life than
anything else. Also interesting is Star’s sister Arielle, who lapses into a
ghetto princess persona named Lucinda Trammp whenever she thinks someone in the
family needs to be schooled. This could be severely overdone, but Rabushka
keeps her in check and uses the device sparingly.

So grab a copy of Star Bryan
and let Jerry Rabushka blow your troubles away with a song for a winter night.
Or a St. Louis afternoon.   

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©, 2012, Jerry Wheeler

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