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City Kid: A Writer's Memoir of Ghetto Life and Post-Soul Success Hardcover – April 2, 2009

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Adult; First Edition edition (April 2, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670020362
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670020362
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.7 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,418,993 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In his vivid and charming memoir, novelist and screenwriter George (Hip Hop America) recounts incidents from an eventful life that has ranged from a tough upbringing by his single mother in Brooklyn in the 1960s to a career of assorted writing gigs in music journalism, television and film. Early in the book, George captures the anxieties of an intelligent child in a dangerous neighborhood, finding solace in his mother's soul records, screenings of Planet of the Apes and Hemingway and Fitzgerald novels. Later, George provides a welcome and appropriately nerve-wracking portrait of a young New York writer, interning at the Amsterdam News and writing concert reviews for Billboard. Slowly, the mature writer and tastemaker emerges, witnessing and shepherding hip-hop's sometimes rocky transition into the mainstream pop-music world, as exemplified by a bizarre concert bill featuring the Commodores, Bob Marley and hip-hop pioneer Kurtis Blow. George's life has been blessed by the presences of an eclectic array of black entertainers, including a young Russell Simmons and a struggling Chris Rock, and he sketches these characters with affection, though at times the book feels more like a collection of anecdotes than a cohesive narrative. Nonetheless, George provides tempting glimpses of the vibrant New York of the recent past. (Apr.)
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From Booklist

“Suddenly black nerds were chic”—not just athletes, musicians, and activists. The award-winning author of hip hop America (1998) and other books and films on popular culture writes about his coming-of-age in his Brooklyn inner-city neighborhood. Rooted in George’s personal experience, this memoir is also a lively look back at historical changes in popular music, film, and writing. A voracious reader, George was thrilled as a kid by Wright and Baldwin but also by Hemingway and Fitzgerald. As a music critic at Billboard, then the Village Voice, he charted the journey from segregation to integration via popular music, connecting the established world of rhythm and blues with the still relatively underground world of rap. His moving family story grounds the book—accounts of his still-troubled relationship with his druggie dad and his adult reconciliation with his sister—but it is the wry, sharp, unpretentious cultural analysis that is at the core here, especially what he calls the exhilarating mix of fear and freedom that comes with listening to music. --Hazel Rochman

More About the Author

Nelson George is an author/filmmaker who specializes in documenting and celebrating African-American culture. As an author he's written several classic black music histories, including Where Did Our Love Go?: The Rise and Fall of the Motown Sound, The Death of Rhythm & Blues and Hip Hop America. He also edited The James Brown Reader, an anthology of articles about the late Godfather of Soul. His current novel, The Plot Against Hip Hop, has a musical theme. He contributed major articles on the films The Help and Pariah to The New York Times Arts & Leisure section in 2011. As a filmmaker George has directed the HBO film Life Support, and has two documentaries debuting in 2012: Brooklyn Boheme on Showtime and The Announcement: Magic Johnson on ESPN. George's web site is

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Dera R Williams VINE VOICE on July 14, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Nelson George, music critic, journalist, film writer, novelist and producer has written a memoir, City Kid: A Writer's Memoir of Ghetto Life and Post-Soul Success. In it he explains how he came to love the music that became his life's work. Born in 1957 in New York City of parents whose families hailed from Virginia and North Carolina, his love for music came naturally. His mother, Arizona Bacchus was an independent, fun-loving music playing, dancing young woman, who raised her son and daughter, Andrea, after her husband, Nelson Elmer George, abandoned the family. The Samuel J. Tilden projects in Brownsville, Brooklyn was home to George and his family for several years. It was there where his mother gave house parties and played the Soul music of the 50s and 60s on her hi-fi stereo. "Pretty Woman," "Mr. Postman," and various other tunes would entertain George for hours. When his mother's friends came over, he would put on a show in his pajamas dancing his heart out. Mornings the family listened to Soul at Sunrise, a radio music show out of Cleveland, Ohio hosted by DJ Eddie O'Jay, who would later head up the group, the O'Jays. The few times George saw his dad, he was taken to some dive where blues and jazz were playing.

Comic books, Hemingway, Faulkner, Fitzgerald, and Baldwin occupied bookish George's time. He excelled in English and writing and thought one day he would write the Great American Novel. When he was in his teens, his mother moved them out of the projects to another part of Brooklyn. In his senior year of high school, he worked in an intern program at the Brooklyn Phoenix, a weekly newspaper where he learned to hone the journalism craft. He then attended St. John's University all the while writing for different venues including The Amsterdam News.
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0 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Kenneth M. Jacobs on May 19, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I have raed this book befor and I think It is good book about kids who exprese themselfs I am a kid who is also writting a book and it is a good book
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