I read Michael Poore’s Reincarnation Blues earlier this year and loved it from the bottom of my heart, so I couldn’t wait to get stuck into Up Jumps The Devil. In a nutshell, this is the life story of the Devil, who also goes by the name of John Scratch, as he tries his best to make America a better place, dealing in souls along the way.
Contrary to popular belief, the Devil isn’t a bad guy. At least, Poore’s version of him isn’t. Sure, he can vaporise people at the click of his fingers when they piss him off. Yes, he advocates for war and bloody murder from time to time. And sure, he’s an angel who fell from heaven when God got pissed at him for fornicating too rambunctiously. But his ultimate goal is to try and figure out the weirdness and, quite often, the uselessness of humans in an attempt to make the Earth good enough for his true love to want to live there.
Throughout the novel we jump back and forth in time, seeing snippets of the Devil’s exploits along the way to help us figure out why he is the way he is. We see him in the 1600s trying to stop the white men from stomping all over the natives at Jamestown. We watch him strike a deal with General Washington in 1777. We witness him fight alongside Nat Turner in 1831. And then there’s all the drugs and the parties in the 1960s and 70s, and the 2005 television show in which he encourages normal people do the most horrific of things in exchange for cash.
It’s a blend of real history, folklore, and plain old fiction, and honestly, it’s just a whole lot of fun. The Devil is an asshole, but his wit, charm, and arrogant confidence make him irresistibly loveable. Poore writes with a whimsical, comedic tone which makes for delightfully entertaining reading, and yet he also highlights the shittiness of humankind in a way that makes you want to be a better person.
This book made me laugh, made me think, and taught me a couple of things about American history. It’s brilliant. I loved it. Can’t recommend it highly enough.Follow Ellie Scott on WordPress.com