Best 1972 Adventures (2)

By: Joshua Glenn
October 5, 2017

One in a series of 10 posts identifying Josh Glenn’s favorite 1972 adventure novels. Happy 45th anniversary!


Ishmael Reed‘s apophenic, Afrofuturist adventure Mumbo Jumbo.

Before Snow Crash and even Gravity’s Rainbow, Mumbo Jumbo conjured up a mythos around “Jes Grew,” an ancient, infectious virus/meme which — spread by certain Negro musicians, in Prohibition New York — influences people to listen to ragtime and jazz, dance, worship more than one god, and otherwise cast off the shackles of a repressive social order. White westerners, since ancient times, have sought to suppress this tendency — as part of their successful effort to subjugate and alienate the other peoples of the world. (The book itself — whose format is disrupted by radio dispatches, photographs, typographic excesses, drawings and collages, footnotes, even anti-Vietnam War protests — seems infected by a disruptive virus of sorts.) PaPa LaBas, a Harlem voodoo practitioner, and his companion Black Herman, are drawn into the conflict against… western culture itself. If the plot flounders a bit, that’s OK — Reed’s ideas and prose style are an adventure.

Fun fact: The Afrofuturist visionary musician George Clinton has cited Mumbo Jumbo as a primary source of inspiration for his P-Funk mythology.


Let me know if I’ve missed any 1972 adventures that you particularly admire.


Adventure, Lit Lists