The Books En Vogue Podcast
Season 1 | Episode 10: Black Buck x Mateo Askaripour
In this podcast episode, the host introduces the book “Black Buck” by Mateo Askaripour. The book follows a young Black man named Darren who works at a Starbucks in Brooklyn but is offered a position at a startup company by a white CEO. Darren becomes the only Black person in the company and faces challenges as he tries to succeed without being tokenized. The host and author discuss tips for setting the reading mood, including finding a comfortable place to read and engaging all the senses. They also share a deleted scene from the book where Darren is asked to interview a Black woman for a job at the company. The episode ends with the author mentioning that he has another book coming out next year.
Speaker 1 (00:00):
Give me a young Black male protagonist navigating the predominately white space of a startup company, discovering its secrets to success and his own moral compass.
This book will leave you thinking about your own boundaries as it relates to grind culture.
Are you ready?
(((♪♫The Books en Vogue Podcast Intro ♪♫)))
Welcome book lovers, to The Books en Vogue podcast.
This is your premiere listening experience all about immersive reading and helping avid and reluctant readers alike imagine book characters like never before.
I am your host, Kat Trinidad.
The format of the show is: I introduce a book, share tips on how you can engage your senses as you read this title, (Because… it’s one thing to be a mood reader but you get a little something extra from the story when you are a set the mood reader). And finally, I will end the show with a reimagining of my favorite scene.
Today We will discuss techniques for getting into Black Buck, with none other than the author, Mateo Askaripour.
Speaker 2 (01:29):
Thanks for having me. Kat.
Speaker 1 (01:30):
Please tell us about the book.
Speaker 2 (01:33):
Yes, lemme see if I Remember, I haven’t done this in a minute. Black Buck is about a young man named Darren who was living in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn. He has his loving mother, his caring girlfriend, his supportive best friend, and his neighborhood. And his neighborhood has him. Now, Darren is also working at a Starbucks at Midtown Manhattan, and one day this young suave white c e o comes in and he says, give me my regular. But for some reason Darren says no and sells him on another drink. This man impressed, invites Darren all the way up to the 36th floor of that same building to his startup and extends an offer for Darren to join his elite sales team. Now, Darren reluctantly agrees, but he soon finds out he’s not the only black salesman there. He’s the only black person in the entire company. So he goes through hell and back to make to the top, and once he’s there, he has power, money, status, but he says, hold up. I don’t want to be the token black guy. So he hatches a plot to help other young people of color infiltrate America’s tech startup sales teams redefining what it means to be a minority in the workplace.
Speaker 1 (02:42):
Thank you so much for that. Mateo, do you care to join me in the discussion of some tips for setting the reading mood?
Speaker 2 (02:49):
Oh, some tips. Take a breath. Remember to ground yourself throughout this novel because you’re going to need it. Maybe be in a comfortable place with some pillows around so that you can throw them aside from instead of punching the wall or anything like that, get ready to do a couple woosah stretch and just prepare for a wild ride.
Speaker 1 (03:15):
Well book lovers. I hope you have your writing utensils ready because class is in session.
So Mateo, what is the vibe? How can we engage our spirit as we read this book?
Speaker 2 (03:48):
So the vibe goes up and down, left and right all the way around. It is most certainly an emotional rollercoaster. There will be times when you cringe. There’ll be times when you want to throw the book. There’ll be times when you say, no, he didn’t. No, she didn’t. Uhuh, no, no way. Then there’ll be times that your heart will be warmed and other times that you will question just about each and every one of these characters intentions. And maybe if I have done my job, question, your own role in this world and then in this specific country of the United States and want to look around and say, Hey, is the world reflected in this novel, the same world that I have experienced or that I’ve heard about or that I’m completely unaware of and that I should look into more? Because this book, while again being intense, while again being an emotional rollercoaster, was born from the seed of the world that we live in and the world that so many of us experience and including myself. And I would say without speaking for you, maybe you too katt.
Speaker 1 (05:06):
Okay, it definitely gave those vibes. Now, what would you say is the sound of Black Buck? What key notes in music or nature can set the tone as we read this novel?
Speaker 2 (05:19):
Yo yo, yo, a little bit of that. Tons of honking in Manhattan and Brooklyn. Some F you ambulance going down the street. Hey baby, some of that. Couple dudes just slapping hands on the corner, a bell going off in a bodega or a deli me little cat that are known to be prowling the New York City streets and hanging out in these bodegas. Some of that, something to do with construction. The sounds of scaffolding going up and going down. Metal clanking, hip hop and reggaeton coming down the street, busting out of car windows people, I mean, I’m hearing honking right now as I’m talking to you. So yeah, some of that big trucks lumbering by down cracked asphalt streets and laughter, definitely laughter.
Speaker 1 (06:23):
Perfect, perfect. So do share the aesthetics. This could be any visuals aside from the book, such as lighting.
Speaker 2 (06:31):
Yeah, sun Clouds heat cold. This book spans at least one or two different seasons, and the visuals are people dressed fly. There’s a character named Jason, who is Darren, also known as Buck’s best friend. He’s dressed in Tim’s jeans in the novel. The author myself describes him as being like the 10th member of the Wu-Tang clan. Sariah, Darren’s girlfriend, significant other. She likes to dress in clothing. That makes a political statement, ma. She’s off to the factory often, so she’s dressed as if she’s going to the factory in her scrubs. Then you have all of these other folks in Manhattan that are in their khakis, their button-ups, their skirts and dresses and all that. Some people are wearing blazers, the smell of vore, the visuals, soaring skyscrapers. Again in Manhattan, in Brooklyn where Darren is from a little bit more grounded brownstones. People just hanging out on the corners. They’re still being the hustle and bustle, but more of a communal vibe than what’s in Manhattan where the avenues are wide and the traffic is plenty. So those are some of the visuals.
Speaker 1 (07:57):
Okay. Okay, so what’s the flavor? Any food or drink companions for this title?
Speaker 2 (08:03):
Come on and if someone’s seen the cover, they already know coffee, smell of coffee. Starbucks in general, so even if you don’t drink your coffee, there’s your tea, there’s your ice drinks, your adas or whatever. I don’t even remember. I don’t even know if people are still drinking adas these days. Yeah, so coffee for sure, iced coffee, all of its varieties for food. I don’t want to spoil it for you, but Ma is a great cook and there is a pivotal scene when she’s making a celebratory dinner for Darren, so there’s some good food in that. The dinner table also, and I realize this long after the book came out when having other discussions about how the book could, should or would be depicted on the screen in an adaptation, but dinner itself for Darren and his family is important in the meals that are served and who is present at dinner or no longer present. There is deeper meaning in that. As for the workplace of someone, SS U M W, and that’s the startup where Darren works, where this C e o Daniels invited him to work. They’re getting catered lunches, they have Mexican food, they have all different types of food there and yeah, that’s what I would say. Then of course, of course alcohol. Alcohol plays a role in this wild, wild west world of startups, so be sure that there’s going to be beer and all of these other types of intoxicating beverages.
Speaker 1 (09:45):
Okay. I know you hinted at it with the coffee, but is there any aromas? Are there any smells to transport us into the pages?
Speaker 2 (09:55):
Yeah, cinnamon and cocoa butter. Again, I don’t want to tell you, I don’t want to hand it all to you. You got to read the book, but cinnamon and cocoa butter, sanitary, Clorox type smells at times. Coffee, like I said, the smell of fast food, the smell of McDonald’s and the smell, sometimes stinging, sometimes inviting aroma of liquor and beer, Bo cologne, cigarettes, urine, sewage. I mean, that’s just New York. That’s part and parcel to live in this city. I could smell it right now on my own crib, so yeah, yeah, enjoy.
Speaker 1 (10:54):
Okay, and last but not least, how can we get more of the feels? How can we engage our sense of touch to really get into the story as we read?
Speaker 2 (11:06):
What an incredible question, what an incredible series of questions. Yeah, you could try reading this book at your desk, wherever you do your work. You should read this book on your couch or in your bed, wherever you’re most comfortable. You should read this book on the floor. You should read this book with one eye closed. Read this book with another eye open for bearing perspectives. Read this book at the dinner table, read it on whatever your public transportation is, the tube, the subway, the metro, the bart, I mean Kat, where you’re at, what’s it called? You got the BART over there?
Speaker 1 (11:45):
Yes, it’s the BART (here in Oakland, California).
Speaker 2 (11:47):
Okay, you got the BART, right, so read it in public transportation, in a taxi, in an Uber. If you’re spending those coins, read it in a park, read it by the pool, read it anywhere and see if your location and what your body is physically touching affects and influences your reader. Vice versa.
Speaker 1 (12:09):
Well, there you go. Book lovers. These are your recommended supplies as you read this title. If you’re able pause and get some of these if available or simply imagine because it’s time for my favorite scene and today we are blessed by the author with a little something special because today we have a deleted scene. Disclaimer: please note that exact words, names, locations, indoor scenarios mentioned in this re-imagined reenactment will differ from the actual book because again, this is a deleted scene.
(((♪♫Scene Segment Intro ♪♫)))
“Clyde’s Request” A deleted scene where Clyde specifically asks Buck to interview a Black woman.
Starring Mateo Askaripour as Buck and narrator
& Kat Trinidad as Sheila, Clyde, and Diana
(((♪♫Soap Opera Instrumental starts… ♪♫)))
Buck/ Narrator: On the first Monday of September, Clyde walked over to my desk and stood behind me as I was trying to get the CEO of a small turtle farm in Port Mayorca, Florida to agree to a meeting.
Sheila: “I’m sorry, Darren, but this just isn’t a good time. This is the third time you’ve called this week, and I’m honestly at my wit’s end.”
Buck/ Narrator: “Sheila,” I said, sensing that she wasn’t as close to her wit’s end as she thought, but was getting there. “This is the third time I’ve called this week because I know you’re the fastest growing turtle farm in Florida, and you and your employees must be pretty stressed out, no?” Yes, I was a visionary, and an average one at that.
Sheila: “Well.” (((sigh))) “of course we are. We’re under a tremendous amount of pressure and our last shipment of Rio Grande Red Eared Sliders died in transit, so we’re scrambling to fulfill an order to one of our high-profile celebrity clients.”
Buck/ Narrator: “Oh no, poor little guys, Sheila. I’m so sorry to hear. Are, are you and everyone okay over there?”
Sheila: (((laugh))) “Course we’re okay. We made half our money back by shipping the dead turtles to New Orleans restaurants who make turtle soup, but it doesn’t change the fact that––”
Buck/ Narrator: Sheila cut out on me, just when things were getting good. When I looked at my phone, I saw Clyde’s finger on hang up button.
“What’re you doing?” I asked, still pissed from those shitty leads he gave me months ago.
Clyde: “Calm down. You weren’t going to get her anyway. It was probably going to be like all of the other dog shit you’ve handed off over the last few months.”
Buck/ Narrator: “Are you done?” I asked, turning back to my monitor and scanning my list for Sheila’s number.
Clyde: “Watch your mouth,”
Buck/ Narrator: he said, gripping the shit out of my shoulder.
Clyde: “But follow me, I need you for something.”
Buck/ Narrator: Me? I thought. What the hell could he want me for? Fortunately, he’d only moderately tortured me over the last few months, and at the end of each month, once we’d miraculously hit impossible goals that were growing like bad yeast infections, he’d be all buddy-buddy for a night and then back to an asshole with a capital “A” the next day. It was actually like that with a few people, like The Duchess, who continued to grope and harass me once every thirty days like a werewolf and a fucking full moon. Anyway, I was curious about what Clyde had in store, so I followed him to Torah.
Sitting in Torah was a young woman with a resume in front of her and hair pulled into a short, tight ponytail. She was staring at some gibberish an engineer must’ve written on the wall.
“Okay, what’s this?” I asked Clyde, turning from the glass wall to him.
Clyde: “An interview. I want you to go in and ask her a few questions. Feel her out, you know?”
Buck/ Narrator: “Why didn’t you get someone else to do it, like Eddie, Marissa or Frodo?”
He nodded in the woman’s direction.
Clyde: “C’mon. Isn’t it obvious? It makes the most sense to get your opinion of her. You know, she’ll be more comfortable with you and you can let me know how she really is.”
Buck/ Narrator: “And what makes you think she’ll be more comfortable with me?” I asked, already knowing his answer.
Clyde: “Because she’s black, Buck. Are you really that dense? C’mon, go in there and let me know how it goes. I already gave her an offer, but need to know what you think.”
Buck/ Narrator: He opened the door and pulled me inside.
Clyde: “Hey Diana, this is Darren,”
“He’ll ask you a few questions, and you can also feel free to ask him some. It’s just a way for you to get an idea of what it’s like to work here.”
Buck/ Narrator: She extended a hand and smiled in my direction.
Diana: “Thanks, Clyde. Nice to meet you, Darren.”
Buck/ Narrator: Clyde walked out (((footsteps begin))) and told me to
Cylde: “play nice.”
Diana: “So,” she said, crossing her legs and looking around the room, “what questions do you have for me?”
Buck/ Narrator: Are you fucking crazy? Was the first that came to mind, but I didn’t want to be disrespectful, so I said, “why do you want to work here?”
Buck/ Narrator: She’s obviously amused by the question.
Diana: “Isn’t it obvious? The newspapers can’t get enough of all of you, especially Rhett Daniels, and I want in. Why do you work here?”
Buck/ Narrator: “Beats working at Starbucks. But what makes you think you can actually do this? It’s not easy. At all.”
She uncrossed her legs, planted her feet and leveled her eyes at me.
Diana: “What makes you think I can’t?”
Buck/ Narrator: “Nah, I mean, no, I never said that. It’s just that, I don’t know, I was unprepared for all of this. It’s a lot, you know?”
Diana: “Can’t be any harder than being the only Black woman at the whitest, oldest and most testosterone-driven law firm in New York City.”
Buck/ Narrator: “Damn, that sounds rough. Were you like one of their secretaries?”
Diana: (((laugh))) “Secretary? I was one of their top lawyers on track to being a partner. That is, if my skin was a bit lighter and I had more in between my legs.”
Buck/ Narrator: Maybe, I thought, just maybe she’s crazy enough to work here and actually succeed.
“Okay, so then why do you want to go from being a top lawyer, probably making a ton of money, to being an SDR? We’re bottom of the barrel.”
Diana: “Gotta start somewhere,”
Buck/ Narrator: my questions rolling off her like O.J. Simpson’s murder charge.
“Alright, I guess we’re good then. Clyde said he gave you an offer, right?”
Buck/ Narrator: She nodded, preparing herself for whatever the next challenge would be. I figured my job was done, and that she was probably the same person with me that she was with Clyde, but something told me to ask her how much her offer was. I don’t know why.
“How much was it?”
Diana: “I guess the same as yours,” she replied. “Thirty-two thousand with twenty on top of I hit my goals.”
Buck/ Narrator: That was less than what I got. About thirteen-thousand less. Something told me not to pry, but I’ll say curiosity got the better of me. She must’ve been a shitty lawyer if she couldn’t negotiate more. Maybe all of that noise she was talking about making partner if she was white and male was some bullshit. So, I said, “That’s a little low. Why didn’t you ask for more?”
She shook her head, as if I was the moron.
Diana: “Of course it’s low. You think any Black woman in America is going to start out making the same as a man, even the same as a Black man, like you?”
Buck/ Narrator: She laughed
Buck/ Narrator: and leaned in closer to me, finally ready to be real with me; to show me what Clyde thought she would only show me.
Diana: “If I would have pushed for more, they would’ve rescinded my offer. They would’ve said I was arrogant, full of myself and probably their favorite line, ‘not a culture fit.’ So I decided to give them one less reason to not hire me.”
Buck/ Narrator: After Clyde walked her to the elevator, he interrupted another of my calls and asked…
Clyde: how [did it go?]
Buck/ Narrator: “Good,”
“She’s focused, determined and would blow it out of the water. Seriously.”
He scrunched his face up and shook his head.
Clyde: “Ah, I don’t think so, Buck. I ended up rescinding her offer. There was something off about her, like she had a bit of an ego.”
Buck/ Narrator: “An ego? What do you mean?”
He slapped my back a few times and laughed.
Clyde: (((Ha ha ha))) “You’ve been here for three months, so you’re still basically new. That girl, whatever her name was, would’ve been a problem. I know it. Plus,”
, “she frankly wasn’t a culture fit.”
(((♪♫Soap Opera Instrumental stops… ♪♫)))
(((♪♫The Books en Vogue Podcast Instrumental ♪♫)))
If you have enjoyed this sneak peek, you can get more by reading the whole book. Black Buck is available at your local library and everywhere books are sold. And if it’s not, request it, because you deserve to read all the books that interest you!
And if you have already read Black Buck , or are in the middle of reading it, let me know in the comments what you like to do to set the mood for reading, because I would love to hear from you! So, please leave your feedback.
Mateo, is there anything else you would like to share with the listeners?
Speaker 2 (21:53):
Kat, thank you again for having me. All of these listeners out there who have read the book, I really appreciate your time and your support over these last few years. If you haven’t read the book, but you plan to check it out, I appreciate your support in advance. Much love to everyone and keep reading and in terms for what’s next. Got another book coming out at some point soon now. I got another book coming out next year. I’m hesitant to maybe announce that, but the news is going to be out soon. So yeah, I got another book coming out next year.
Speaker 1 (22:31):
Well, we cannot wait. Thank you so much for sharing that and thank you again for joining us today.
Speaker 2 (22:39):
Thank you, Kat. I had a blast.
Speaker 1 (22:41):
Absolutely. And thank you, book lovers, for listening.
With peace, love and joy, happy reading.
(((♪♫The Books en Vogue Podcast Outro ♪♫)))
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