Synopses & Reviews
In this evocative memoir, Brent Staples poses some compelling questions: Where does the family end the self begin? What do we owe our families and what do we owe ourselves? What part of the past is a gift and what part a shackle?
As the oldest son among nine children, Brent grew up in a small industrial town near Philadelphia. Scholarship opportunities pulled him out of the black world where he had grown up into a world largely defined by whites. Meanwhile, as the industries that supported his hometown failed, and drug dealing rushed in to fill the economic void, news of arrests and premature deaths among Brent's childhood friends underscored his precarious perch in a mostly white environment. The death of his younger brother -- a cocaine dealer murdered by one of his "clients" -- propelled Brent into a reconsideration of his childhood that offers vivid portraits of family values that supported, pressures that tore apart, and the appeal and pain of living as an adult in a world that was literally and figuratively miles away from the one he knew as a child.
In his critically acclaimed memoir, New York Times editorial writer Brent Staples poses some provocative and compelling questions: Where does the family end and the self begin? What do we owe our families, and what do we owe ourselves? What part of the past is a gift and what part a shackle?
Prompted by the drug-related death of his younger brother, Staples revisits his childhood and youth in a small industrial town near Philadelphia -- a town he fled to pursue a brilliant and successful career in journalism. What Staples left behind is the subject of this searching and intimate autobiography that offers vivid portraits of family and place, of values that supported and pressure that tore apart, and of the appeal and pain of entering a predominantly white world that was literally and figuratively miles away from the black world he knew as a child.
About the Author
Brent Staples received his Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Chicago. Currently a member of the editorial board of the New York Times, he has been an assistant metropolitan editor of the Times, an editor of the New York Times Book Review, and a reporter for the Chicago Sun-Times.