Cover Image: Black Buck

Black Buck

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Member Reviews

What a wild and fun ride while being poignantly relevant to the current state of affairs. I devoured this well written novel in hours while both smiling and laughing.  I'm so glad it is receiving g such praise.
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When I say that this book hooked me from the start, I mean it! I had never read any book quite like this before and it truly did not disappoint. This story follows Darren who was working at Starbucks when a higher up in a start up comes on and picks up on darrens natural talents for that world. Darren is apprehensive at first, but eventually agrees to check it out. This book is so dark, and full of satire which was so interesting to read. The writing in this was so well done, everything flowed and I never felt bored. I loved the way that with each chapter we got to a deeper layer of what was going on. Askaripour always used this story to represent how this society is for so many POC who are struggling to get into these large corporations and how this society was built to keep them down. Overall this is a one of a kind read, and I think this would make a fantastic audiobook! 

Thanks Netgalley for the ARC!
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This is like The Devil Wears Prada for the tech industry, in that it's about a character who sells his soul to a career that he would have barely cared about before actually entering it. This was also such an interesting perspective to see, about being one of very few people of color in a particular workplace, because we see how even when the main character is the best dressed person there, people say he needs to dress better, etc.
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I really enjoyed this novel disguised as a self-help sales guide. Our protagonist, Buck, is recruited from Starbucks to work at a tech sales firm. We follow his highs and lows in his new career. Even at his worst, we are still rooting for Buck. The characters were fully-fleshed out and the narrative included conflicts over race without getting “preachy.”
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This book has really stayed with me, weeks after I finished reading it. It’s an ambitious book, and honestly I think it is perfection. It embraces the weird possibilities of the genre and pushes them forward, creating something utterly unique. I especially appreciate the way this novel works on so many different levels, while remaining an engaging, at times hilarious read. Depending on your background it might be good to brush up on your history of blackface minstrelsy in the US, as that’s something the novel works through in different ways. But I think there’s something for all readers here. I listened to the audiobook and it was very well done.
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This was an important, quirky, well-written novel. It covered some hard-hitting issues like race and the workforce. I think this would be an absolute perfect choice for a bookclub pick or even two friends discussing it over coffee. There are some really well thought out ideas in this book and it was a wholly inspiring read. Extremely refreshing. I am so grateful to Netgalley for exposing me to titles I may not otherwise have known about. Definitely recommend.
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Summaries of this novel call it a satire, but some of it feels all too realistic. Whether it's the excesses of bro culture in the tech startup world, or the blatant racism Darren faces on his quest from Starbucks manager (the origin of his "Buck" nickname and the novel's title) to the only Black salesman in his new company, these descriptions sound plausible, if outrageous. Which may be the mark of good satire, I don't know.
I wanted to enjoy this book more than I did. The hero sounded like someone to root for, someone leading an underground movement to train an army of salespeople of color, but Darren spent too much of the novel acting like a jerk. He ignores his loving mama, stands up his girlfriend, and turns his back on his community and friends for nearly 70% of the book, according to my Kindle. Like an alcoholic who has to hit rock bottom before he will seek help, by the time he finally has his great awakening and hatches his plan to infiltrate sales forces with a BIPOC staff, Darren has spent too much time convincing the reader that he himself is at best thoughtless and at worst mean. Unfortunately, I was convinced, and I didn't really buy his turnaround. It was too little too late, and the ending was unsatisfying. On the plus side, the dialogue is witty and rings true, and Darren clearly knows his way around a Starbucks. I would have liked to learn more about his own community and less about the venal tech world he tries to infiltrate. 
Askaripour is definitely a talented writer, and I will happily read more of his fiction, particularly of the realistic or literary genres. I'd also love to listen to some interviews with him to learn more about his process and his goals for this book. Why did he choose satire instead of realism? How does he want readers to respond to Darren? Is the ending meant to be cautionary or validating? So many questions! Like Darren, Askaripour leaves us wanting more.
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Black Buck is a hilarious but serious contemporary fiction novel that I will recommend to everyone interested in race and class, especially stories that investigate those themes in New York City. Darren is working at a Starbucks when he is noticed by Rhett, a CEO of a start up in the building, Rhett recruits Darren, who is quickly nicknamed "Buck," to this elite sales team, and Buck is a natural. Buck loses himself in this new world, turning his back on his friends and family, but eventually makes some decisions that change his life and the lives of others forever.

I listened to this book on audio and the narrator was fantastic! Satire does not always work for me but Askaripour managed it expertly here. It's a fun read but at the same time very serious and tragic as well. There were a few plot points that did not quite make sense to me, but overall a highly enjoyable read.
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This book gave me flashbacks to my days of B2B market research for Compaq, but aside from that unpleasantness, I really enjoyed this. It was well-written and well-paced. I cared about Buck, even when he was an ass, and I enjoyed watching his character development. My only complaint is the ending. The epilogue was fine, but the chapter before that - ugh. That was a plot twist that I could really have done without. It felt like an easy way out when the meat of the story was written and the author had no idea how to end the book. I'm a little crushed by that, to be honest, because right up until that point, it was a 5 star book.
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Darren Venders works at Starbucks. He has a simple life, living with his mom and enjoying his time with his girlfriend Soraya and serving coffee to his customers. When he pitches a different flavour to Rhett Daniels, the CEO of an up and coming startup Sumwun, he realizes that his life is never going to be same afterwards. Because he has a special talent in making people change their minds. And Rhett is absolutely intent on making him join his company. Many 'Wolf of Wall Street' like capers and one or two tragedies later, Darren, now known as Buck, realizes that the new life is changing him. So he decides to make use of his talent and bring more black people to this predominantly white company. He trains his friends and their friends and before he knows it, they come under the radar of the media and other companies and of course, white people who are insecure about their places getting filled with people of colour. 
This book was fun to read. The narrator wrote it in a format that is like a memoir and also a kind of sales guide where he breaks the fourth wall and talks to the readers. The first half was really good. But the second half was at times a bit much. Too many things happened too fast and it was difficult to catch up. But overall this is was an enjoyable read. Fast. Fun. And of course, it has its teaching moments. Which is very important. Give it a try!
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I had really high hopes for this book. The idea of a book exploring how people of color are treated within the business world was very intriguing. But, I just didn't love how this was executed. I understand that this is meant to be satire but I think some of the jokes and massaging were just a little over-the-top and in your face. Honestly, some of the jokes in this were just cringeworthy and seemed to do the opposite of what they were intended for. 

I also had a hard time suspending disbelief and accepting that someone's personality and morals could change so quickly. I understand that the loss of a loved one and the subsequent grief of that can completely derail someone's life but this book just seemed to take all of that to an extreme. 
I also despised the way that all of the women in this book were treated.  

The book wasn't terrible which is why I still gave it 3 stars but honestly it could have been done much better.
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I really liked this one, even though I wasn’t sure if I would at first. It’s a very satirical look at corporate America, which being a corporate drop out, I really enjoyed. I also thought this did a really great job of showing the obstacles and racism that a young, Black man faces in the corporate world.

Overall, I enjoyed the story and especially the surprises and twists towards the end.
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I really enjoyed this book - super reminiscent of Wolf of Wall Street and other stories, but I felt it dipped too far into satire towards the end. Loved the plot twist with Buck's "penthouse". Great view also of how some companies use minorities to their advantage.
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Thanks to NetGalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for an ARC in exchange for an honest review, 

Like Colson Whitehead, Paul Beatty, et al before him Mateo Askaripour riffs deep on the scourge of systemic racism in society. Satirically speaking, this is as witty as a book I’ve read when broaching the topic. Darren Vender, the uninspiring young urban black man working as a Starbucks barista; uneducated as higher degrees go, unmotivated to do so and still living at home which is not atypical save for the reason. He spends his days serving people, but ONE particular customer changes his life or vice versa you might say. Darren Vender makes the titanic leap into the corporate world improbably and virtually every racial stereotype in the private sector is mocked. Racial discrimination in the workplace, affirmative action, “reverse racism”, racial bias in hiring, token blackism, you name it, it’s in there, farcically. And as the genius of Askaripour unfolds, you realize that when the laugh-out-loud moments begin to quiet down and Darren Vender’s pendulum swings back from iconic status to back-to-earth, you’re left with a slight tinny aftertaste in your mouth. A trickle of blood from biting it to try and repress the truth in the writing. The stunningly disparate numbers of POC in positions of leadership for Fortune 500 companies, or positions of management or ownership in professional sports despite attempts to promote it like the Rooney Rule in the NFL. And suddenly WUSS isn’t so outlandish, beyond the pale or funny for that matter. POC have always been a step behind at the starting line. James Baldwin, Mateo Askaripour, stunningly direct, allegorical, the message is the same—corporate racism is the same tree, different branch.
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I really enjoyed this take on sales and race relations.  It made me think, yet was sarcastic and far-fetched enough to not be overly serious.  My only problem was deciding the time period, 1990s?  2000s?
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The author says he wants all people to be successful but his treatment of women is very poor.  How women were treated by the protagonist. It’s very obvious the author is a man because of the roles that the women characters were regulated in: either sexualized or matronly. Both archetypes were there to “teach” the protagonist and used to further his journey without the characters actually having much of a story on their own. For a book that is supposed to tackle black and POC’s experiences within corporate culture, the absence of women's perspectives shows just one of the industry’s many core issues that were not explored in the book.  Let's start with the main character, Darren, the titular Black Buck. The nickname Buck refers to his job at Starbucks, meant to degrade him, but it's a name he comes to own and associate with his success. The first half of Black Buck is an ego trip where any and everyone around Darren, including random strangers, tell him how amazing he is. On the one hand, Darren humbly questions his capabilities whenever someone tells him he deserves more or better. On the other, Darren is sometimes angry to the point of near violence when his skills are questioned. There are several instances throughout the story where Darren's thoughts and actions seem to be at odds; he comes across as disingenuous and untrustworthy, which I don't think was Askaripour's intention.  A very obvious debut. Black Buck was not satirical, but sloppy.  He is the only fan of himself the derogatory terms and comments about himself and others is a real put off.  I would not recommend for sure.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the opportunity to review for honest feedback.
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Black Buck is so funny it hurts. Because it's true. The absurdities seem so unrealistic, however for Black Americans that work in the current tech trends and booms, very little rings untrue.
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Black Buck is an engaging and fast-paced read about a young Black man in a company where he is the only Black man in training and he has to decide how to proceed. Does he give up and walk away after a training week full of discrimination? Or does he decide to be the best that he can be in sales as the only Black salesperson? He chooses wisely and gets the most from his situation. 
The most intriguing thing about how this book was written is its ability to tell the story but to also illustrate a way in sales for all people, particularly POC, who might find themselves in a similar situation.
Really readable and great character development.
Recommend!
#BlackBuck #NetGalley #HoughtonMifflinHarcourt
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A young Blackman, Darren (aka: Buck), working at Starbucks get propositioned with a shot at a new career in sales for a fresh start-up company. Buck takes the job, suffers through a rigorous training period, and then flourishes into on the companies very best salesman. This satirical representation of modern day corporate America is riddled with racism, misogyny, and gaslighting. Buck’s story takes some real wild turns as he battles with his ideas of success, ambition, and community. 

Sincere thank you to NetGalley and Houghton Mifflin for an advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest review.
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I found this book confusing and found myself bored and uninterested. I can understand why this was such a hit for others, but it really did not do it for me.
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