Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group
Screamin' Jay Hawkins' All-Time Greatest Hits

Screamin' Jay Hawkins' All-Time Greatest Hits

A Novel

Mark Binelli




Trade Paperback

He came onstage in a coffin carried by pallbearers, with a bone clamped to his nose and a staff topped with a human skull. Offstage, he insisted that he’d been raised by a tribe of Blackfoot Indians, that he’d defeated the boxing champion of Alaska, that he’d fathered seventy-five illegitimate children. The R&B wild man 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. But his mythmaking was legendary.

In this inventive retelling, Mark Binelli embraces the man and the legend to create a comic, tragic, fantastical portrait of this unlikeliest of protagonists. Hawkins saw his life as a riotous picaresque, and Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ All-Time Greatest Hits does it justice, in a dazzling collage of hilarity and heartbreak.



Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ All-Time Greatest Hit


The origin story typically goes something like this: On September 12, 1956, a rhythm-and-blues aspirant named Jalacy...


Praise for Screamin' Jay Hawkins' All-Time Greatest Hits

"Captivating . . . A spectacular exploration into the ways one black musician negotiated racial and gender expectations onstage."—The New York Times Book Review

"Stylish . . . Binelli’s magpie approach is deeply rewarding. By the end, this series of brief fictionalized impressions feels as true to life, or more so, than a conventional biography might."—The New York Times

"The real-life ‘I Put a Spell on You’ singer created an outrageous biography for himself. . . . Binelli mines it all for a rollicking romp of a tale."—New York Post

"Binelli’s book is half biography, half fiction, and its best parts combine both into impressionistic imaginings of Hawkins’ bizarre life, adding emotional complexity to the shock-rock cult-fave."—Rolling Stone

"Mark Binelli is the only contemporary writer with enough courage, imagination, and sheer brilliance to wrestle the story of Screamin’ Jay Hawkins out of myth and legend and into a novel. The portrait of Hawkins that emerges is subtle, profound, and heroic, and, like all great fiction, utterly indelible."—Dinaw Mengestu, author of All Our Names

"Mark Binelli makes this novel play like a jukebox loaded up with the B-sides of American history. Brilliantly mixing up the facts and the myths into an audaciously original, bleakly comic tale, he turns one old blues song into a casket big enough to contain all the country’s most bizarre nightmares."—Rob Sheffield, author of Love is a Mix Tape

"Mark Binelli, like Screamin’ Jay himself, shouts, shimmies, and self-reinvents on the fly, with no concern for any genre besides ‘classic.’ Few books about music have had so much prose-music. Few books about race have had so much nose-jewelry and sex in phone booths. Read and be moved, grooved, baited, and blued."—Joshua Cohen, author of Book of Numbers

"Mark Binelli conjures the theatrical props and mortal remains of Screamin’ Jay Hawkins and brings the master out of the coffin alive and screaming."—Gary Panter, artist

Reviews from Goodreads

About the author

Mark Binelli

MARK BINELLI is the author of Detroit City Is the Place to Be and the novel Sacco and Vanzetti Must Die! as well as a contributing editor at Rolling Stone and Men's Journal. Born and raised in the Detroit area, he lives in New York City.

Mark Binelli

Corine Vermeulen

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