Synopses & Reviews
Harlem, 1950s. For young Jackie Mann, life is about the basics: avoiding his abusive father's fists; supporting himself and his dad working backbreaking, demeaning jobs; and using his quick wit as an aspiring stand-up comic to give himself a sense of purpose, while knowing full well there is only one way to achieve the simple respect and dignity white Americans take for granted: make it big. Make it no matter the cost.
Jackie's ambition to be somebody takes him from low-rent gigs in New York's Greenwich Village to Southern towns torn by vicious racism and the burgeoning civil rights movement to Detroit at the birth of a new music empire. Currying favor with the real kings of showbiz brings Jackie to Las Vegas's ultimate playland, where Sinatra's word is law and the mob reigns supreme. His willingness to tell America what it wants to hear puts him at the glittering heights of Hollywood in the golden age of television. But as bad decisions and a "by any means necessary" attitude take their toll, Jackie Mann will face a choice between unprecedented success bought with the ultimate sellout or true respect and achievement gained by daring to risk it all.
Incisive, compelling, and ultimately moving, A Conversation with the Mann is a dazzling portrait of an era and an unforgettable story in which one man's ambition, a race's demands for justice, and history all collide...and change forever.
"Irresistible...with its whiff of noir...keeps you entertained." New York Times Book Review
"Action-packed." Wall Street Journal
"Poignant." Los Angeles Times
"A cracking good read...fascinating....Ridley [renders] the milieu brutally vivid (think James Ellroy set in the nightclub circuit)." Booklist
"Bleak and believable." Kirkus Reviews
"Ridley vividly brings to life noirish panoramas of high-stakes show business..." Publishers Weekly
One of a unique new breed of writers, novelist and screenwriter John Ridley cross-wires genres, boundaries, and audience expectations to stunning effect. A Conversation with the Mann is his most evocative, brilliantly detailed, and unforgettable vision yet.
``What do you want? ``I want the Ed Sullivan Show. At the dawn of the Civil Rights movement, like a lot of black Americans, comedian Jackie Mann wanted to be somebody. And for him there was only one way to achieve that: to make it big.
About the Author
John Ridley is a multi-faceted talent in film, television, and publishing. The author of three highly regarded novels and a former producer on NBC's Third Watch, he wrote and produced the film Undercover Brother, conceived the story for Three Kings, and wrote and directed Cold Around the Heart. His critically acclaimed novel Stray Dogs was made into the movie U-Turn, directed by Oliver Stone. In addition, he is also a regular commentator for National Public Radio.