Angry Black White Boy
Prices for book: Angry Black White Boy
Book ISBN: 9781400054879
Author(s): Adam Mansbach
Document type: Trade Paper
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Angry Black White Boy is hilarious, brilliant, inventive and insightful. This is the American Race Novel, remixed for the hip hop generation, and refocused toward the people who most need a racial education: white folks (of which, for the record, I am one). It's chocked full of allusions, wordplay, layered meanings, samples. But even if you miss all of them, you're in for an intense, wild ride. Satire at its finest.
Sarah Hamill (Amazon.com)
I read Angry Black White Boy for a graduate-level whiteness studies class and fell in love! This book not only tackles the problems caused by whiteness, but is truly an engaging narrative with well-developed, thoughtful, and multi-layered characters. Macon's motives range from selfish to selfless, and his message is all the more worthwhile because of his flaws. Check out this book and find yourself reconsidering everything you thought you knew.
An Idiot's Tale, Signifying Nothing
There is a contradiction inherent in this novel. On the one hand, it clearly espouses the anti-intellectualism of hip-hop (witness the hero's belief that he, and other hip-hop bards like him, will eventually surpass Shakespeare's still-intact record for new usages in English). On the other hand, Adam Mansbach wants to be taken seriously as a prose stylist -- witness the inflated, baroque language in service of mundane action(from p. 311: "The backs of the rest-stop buildings wizened, shrunk, and joined the past . . ."). For every attempt at the high style, there are counterweights like this, from p. 72: "Fly women speckled the crowd, and he found a spot along the back wall, posted up and smoldered his eyes at them, hoping in vain to catch some rhythm in return."
This brings us to another contradiction, this one in Mansbach's writing itself. Although he wants to be taken seriously as a stylist, there are many, many misuses of the language in the short space of "Angry Black White Boy." For instance, the line just cited at page 72 assumes that "smolder" is a transitive verb (that is, one capable of taking an object). I have checked the dictionary -- it is not. Mansbach, here, has mistakenly given "smolder" an object -- "his eyes."
Another error is the misuse of the word "transverse" as a verb (I regret I have no page number for this, but I can assure you it's in there). While "transverse," according to my research, may function as a noun or an adjective, it is not properly used as a verb.
A further error -- "he hit the breaks" (p. 277), in reference to a vehicle's brakes. I realize, of course, anyone can make a typo, but this is a piece of literary fiction published by a division of Random House. This is the age of grammar check, spell check, and completely computerized type-setting -- it is now possible to publish books free of that sort of error.
There are some who will object to the fault-finding tone of this review, to the seemingly picayune nature of the objections. But let us be clear; this is a book by an author who believes he's competing in the same league with Shakespeare. Mansbach himself has dictated the rules of the game he wants to play; it is one for all of the marbles. The self-congratulatory tone, the bombast, the tumescent language pushing a muddle-headed notion of social justice (no matter how praiseworthy) all demand this sort of cutting down to size, not to say the red pen.
Sadly, if Mansbach really wishes to follow his desire (that is, the one I assume on his behalf, that of being recognized as a stylist) he is hopelessly without the talent for achieving that end. He has none of the requisite linguistic wherewithal, and more importantly, none of the artistic discipline necessary to keep naked declarations of theme in check.
He may instead wish to pursue a career in politics, where bombast, and brute force, have their places.
Joseph Barbarie (Amazon.com)
Have we won the war on racism?
Nah, kinda hard when few are fightin. This book will make you look at the world a little differently as it reveals to you the constant ignorance surrounding us. A perfect blend of insight on the hip hop culture and a page turning novel.
M. Johnson (Amazon.com)
Race relations needed this
I'm a teacher working in a predominantly urban environment, and in Macon I see so many of the kids in my school. I've recommended this book to every colleague who will stop long enough to hear me rave about it. Mansbach's words and characters (none of whom are given short shrift) got so deeply into my head that as the conclusion hit me, I was overcome and wept. I was truly disturbed by this book, because it is just beyond the realm of possibility, but dwells far enough within the boundaries of our imaginations that we should be wondering if such a thing could happen.
Some people think the ending ruins the book, but with a book like this your eyes are held straight through, and if you can buy the rest of the story, the ending is a strangely logical conclusion. People will call it explosive, controversial, and whatever else they call books they don't quite understand. The fact is that Mansbach is right on so many levels. Who owns a culture? Who can ingratiate themselves into a race? If someone tries, are they deserving of punishment for trying? The levels of hatred, misunderstanding, and bemused tragic observation are so prevalent here. I'm in awe of this book, and I don't say that lightly. Please read it.
M. Ginsburg (Amazon.com)
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