Buck: A Memoir

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A coming-of-age story about navigating the wilds of urban America and the shrapnel of a self-destructing family, Buck shares the story of a generation through one original and riveting voice. MK Asante was born in Zimbabwe to American parents: his mother a dancer, his father a revered professor. But as a teenager, MK was alone on the streets of North Philadelphia, swept up in a world of drugs, sex, and violence. MK’s memoir is an unforgettable tale of how one precocious, confused kid educated himself through gangs, rap, mystic cults, ghetto philosophy, and, eventually, books. It is an inspiring tribute to the power of literature to heal and redeem us.

Praise for Buck
 
“A story of surviving and thriving with passion, compassion, wit, and style.”—Maya Angelou 
 
“In America, we have a tradition of black writers whose autobiographies and memoirs come to define an era. . . . Buck may be this generation’s story.”—NPR

“The voice of a new generation. . . . You will love nearly everything about Buck.”Essence

“A virtuoso performance . . . [an] extraordinary page-turner of a memoir . . . written in a breathless, driving hip-hop prose style that gives it a tough, contemporary edge.”The Philadelphia Inquirer

“Frequently brilliant and always engaging . . . It takes great skill to render the wide variety of characters, male and female, young and old, that populate a memoir like Buck. Asante [is] at his best when he sets out into the city of Philadelphia itself. In fact, that city is the true star of this book. Philly’s skateboarders, its street-corner philosophers and its tattoo artists are all brought vividly to life here. . . . Asante’s memoir will find an eager readership, especially among young people searching in books for the kind of understanding and meaning that eludes them in their real-life relationships. . . . A powerful and captivating book.”—Hector Tobar, Los Angeles Times

“Remarkable . . . Asante’s prose is a fluid blend of vernacular swagger and tender poeticism. . . . [He] soaks up James Baldwin, Zora Neale Hurston and Walt Whitman like thirsty ground in a heavy rain. Buck grew from that, and it’s a bumper crop.”Salon
 
Buck is so honest it floats—even while it’s so down-to-earth that the reader feels like an ant peering up from the concrete. It’s a powerful book. . . . Asante is a hip-hop raconteur, a storyteller in the Homeric tradition, an American, a rhymer, a big-thinker singing a song of himself. You’ll want to listen.”The Buffalo News


From the Trade Paperback edition.
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About the author

MK Asante is an award-winning writer, filmmaker, hip-hop artist, and professor of creative writing and film at Morgan State University.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Spiegel & Grau
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Published on
Aug 20, 2013
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Pages
272
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ISBN
9780679645450
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Features
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Language
English
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Genres
Biography & Autobiography / Personal Memoirs
Social Science / Sociology / Urban
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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Two-time National Book Award winner Jesmyn Ward (Salvage the Bones, Sing, Unburied, Sing) contends with the deaths of five young men dear to her, and the risk of being a black man in the rural South.

"We saw the lightning and that was the guns; and then we heard the thunder and that was the big guns; and then we heard the rain falling and that was the blood falling; and when we came to get in the crops, it was dead men that we reaped.†? -Harriet Tubman

In five years, Jesmyn Ward lost five young men in her life-to drugs, accidents, suicide, and the bad luck that can follow people who live in poverty, particularly black men. Dealing with these losses, one after another, made Jesmyn ask the question: Why? And as she began to write about the experience of living through all the dying, she realized the truth-and it took her breath away. Her brother and her friends all died because of who they were and where they were from, because they lived with a history of racism and economic struggle that fostered drug addiction and the dissolution of family and relationships. Jesmyn says the answer was so obvious she felt stupid for not seeing it. But it nagged at her until she knew she had to write about her community, to write their stories and her own.

Jesmyn grew up in poverty in rural Mississippi. She writes powerfully about the pressures this brings, on the men who can do no right and the women who stand in for family in a society where the men are often absent. She bravely tells her story, revisiting the agonizing losses of her only brother and her friends. As the sole member of her family to leave home and pursue higher education, she writes about this parallel American universe with the objectivity distance provides and the intimacy of utter familiarity. A brutal world rendered beautifully, Jesmyn Ward's memoir will sit comfortably alongside Edwidge Danticat's Brother, I'm Dying, Tobias Wolff's This Boy's Life, and Maya Angelou's I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.
An exceptional father-son story from the National Book Award–winning author of Between the World and Me about the reality that tests us, the myths that sustain us, and the love that saves us.

Paul Coates was an enigmatic god to his sons: a Vietnam vet who rolled with the Black Panthers, an old-school disciplinarian and new-age believer in free love, an autodidact who launched a publishing company in his basement dedicated to telling the true history of African civilization. Most of all, he was a wily tactician whose mission was to carry his sons across the shoals of inner-city adolescence—and through the collapsing civilization of Baltimore in the Age of Crack—and into the safe arms of Howard University, where he worked so his children could attend for free.

Among his brood of seven, his main challenges were Ta-Nehisi, spacey and sensitive and almost comically miscalibrated for his environment, and Big Bill, charismatic and all-too-ready for the challenges of the streets. The Beautiful Struggle follows their divergent paths through this turbulent period, and their father’s steadfast efforts—assisted by mothers, teachers, and a body of myths, histories, and rituals conjured from the past to meet the needs of a troubled present—to keep them whole in a world that seemed bent on their destruction.

With a remarkable ability to reimagine both the lost world of his father’s generation and the terrors and wonders of his own youth, Coates offers readers a small and beautiful epic about boys trying to become men in black America and beyond.

Praise for The Beautiful Struggle

“I grew up in a Maryland that lay years, miles and worlds away from the one whose summers and sorrows Ta-Nehisi Coates evokes in this memoir with such tenderness and science; and the greatest proof of the power of this work is the way that, reading it, I felt that time, distance and barriers of race and class meant nothing. That in telling his story he was telling my own story, for me.—Michael Chabon, bestselling author of The Yiddish Policemen’ s Union and The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay

“Ta-Nehisi Coates is the young James Joyce of the hip hop generation.“—Walter Mosley
NOW AN ORIGINAL SERIES ON ABC • “Just may be the best new comedy of [the year] . . . based on restaurateur Eddie Huang’s memoir of the same name . . . [a] classic fresh-out-of-water comedy.”—People
 
“Bawdy and frequently hilarious . . . a surprisingly sophisticated memoir about race and assimilation in America . . . as much James Baldwin and Jay-Z as Amy Tan . . . rowdy [and] vital . . . It’s a book about fitting in by not fitting in at all.”—Dwight Garner, The New York Times
 
NATIONAL BESTSELLER • NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY KIRKUS REVIEWS
 
Assimilating ain’t easy. Eddie Huang was raised by a wild family of FOB (“fresh off the boat”) immigrants—his father a cocksure restaurateur with a dark past back in Taiwan, his mother a fierce protector and constant threat. Young Eddie tried his hand at everything mainstream America threw his way, from white Jesus to macaroni and cheese, but finally found his home as leader of a rainbow coalition of lost boys up to no good: skate punks, dealers, hip-hop junkies, and sneaker freaks. This is the story of a Chinese-American kid in a could-be-anywhere cul-de-sac blazing his way through America’s deviant subcultures, trying to find himself, ten thousand miles from his legacy and anchored only by his conflicted love for his family and his passion for food. Funny, moving, and stylistically inventive, Fresh Off the Boat is more than a radical reimagining of the immigrant memoir—it’s the exhilarating story of every American outsider who finds his destiny in the margins.
 
Praise for Fresh Off the Boat
 
“Brash and funny . . . outrageous, courageous, moving, ironic and true.”—New York Times Book Review
 
“Mercilessly funny and provocative, Fresh Off the Boat is also a serious piece of work. Eddie Huang is hunting nothing less than Big Game here. He does everything with style.”—Anthony Bourdain
 
“Uproariously funny . . . emotionally honest.”—Chicago Tribune
 
“Huang is a fearless raconteur. [His] writing is at once hilarious and provocative; his incisive wit pulls through like a perfect plate of dan dan noodles.”—Interview
 
“Although writing a memoir is an audacious act for a thirty-year-old, it is not nearly as audacious as some of the things Huang did and survived even earlier. . . . Whatever he ends up doing, you can be sure it won’t look or sound like anything that’s come before. A single, kinetic passage from Fresh Off the Boat . . . is all you need to get that straight.”—Bookforum


From the Hardcover edition.
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