The Ballad of Lee Cotton by Christopher Wilson

This is a difficult book to review because I don’t want to give away the plot.  I think you have to slowly read it and let the story unfold in it’s own peculiar way.

To quote the jacket “Born to an Icelandic father and a black mother, Lee Cotton grows up an extraordinary boy with extraordinary gifts.  His story is one of the most unusual you will ever read”

This story is unique.  It was recommended to me by somebody in work who said it was one of her favourite books but wouldn’t give me any more idea about it other than the instruction ‘read it yourself’.

The story is told by Lee who starts life in Eureka, Mississipi.  Lee starts life in a controversial way and this is set to continue throughout his life.  He is fated to never totally be one thing or another.  He is dealt a strange hand that sees the course of his life change a number of time.  Changes that give him a strange insight into other people’s lives.

The story touches on a number of topics (and covers the period of the 1950s – 1970s) such as racism, sexism, the war with Vietnam and pornography but in spite of this doesn’t become overly bleak.  Told by Lee with his strange perspective the book is quirky, compelling and occasionally laugh out loud funny.  I was genuinely jaw dropped dumbstruck and wide eyed by the turn of events at the half way point of the book and I can’t imagine anyone seeing that particular twist coming!  There were also a couple of paragraphs that really had me in stitches – particularly Lee’s take on being a woman.  Very funny.

I don’t know how to categorise this book really, it strongly reminded me of a strange version of Forrest Gump crossed with a smattering of other films and books such as The Time Travellers Wife and Powder.

Overall, I think this was a very enjoyable book and one that will continue to stay in my thoughts for a while.

In terms of criticism, I think it dragged a little in the first half and also I thought the ending was a bit weak.  But, easily forgiven and I thought Lee was a great story teller.

Rating -A

The Ballad of Lee Cotton

The Ballad of Lee Cotton


2 Responses to “The Ballad of Lee Cotton by Christopher Wilson”

  1. jessiethought

    Good review. Spiked interest, but didn’t give away plot!

    • lynnsbooks

      Hello. Thanks, I really try not to give away spoilers – sometimes it’s not easy though! I checked out your blog. I like your ladybug poem.
      Lynn 😀

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