11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Less memoir than "morality"--or sociology--tale,
By A Customer
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This review is from: Honky (Hardcover)
I picked up this book after reading Conley's sociology book, "Being Black, Living in the Red." The latter is first rate--I found it very, very helpful. I was curious about the formative experiences of the author of THAT book. Except for that, I don't know that I would have finished this one. Conley gives sketchy details of all characters except himself--for instance, we get no idea why his father forsook his "artist" identity to take on steady work, though this seems an important event, with which Conley deals in half a page. Even of himself, he is less forthcoming than it initially seems--for instance, he tells us of his various misdeeds and psychopatholgies, but he does little more than report them. ("Show, don't tell," someone should have instructed him.) I found myself frustrating with a pile of, "But what about . . . " questions I wanted the author to have addressed. ("So what about your Mom's short-lived writing career? How did that affect her and your family?" "How did your OCD affect your place in your various neighborhoods? Did whites/middle class folk deal with it differently than blacks/lower class?")
I think this book is more a set of object lessons in the author's (very insightful) understanding of race and class than a compelling or convincing memoir. We get the details relevant to the lessons, not those that would make a full-fledged story.