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The Cook Up: A Crack Rock Memoir Hardcover – May 3, 2016
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"D. Watkins is beautifully unusual. Having lived the horrors within the heart of our inner city Baltimore first-hand and having acquired the heights of collegiate achievement, D. Watkins is uniquely equipped to communicate our political and social challenges of urban America not only through the lens of academia but through empirical knowledge as well. He is the voice of the future seamlessly blending the wisdom of the streets and intellectual prowess in a way I have never experienced before."―Jada Pinkett Smith
"The East Baltimore of D. Watkins is distant from where I live by twenty-five, maybe thirty blocks. It might as well be a country other than my own. This is the United State we abandoned and then forgot, the margins of a thriving, information-age America where mass labor is no longer essential, where the factories and warehouses and piers are empty or gone, and where Johns Hopkins University is the second largest employer -next to the illegal drug trade. And the corners are always hiring. That Watkins threaded his way from those corners to the page is rare enough. That he is so committed to pulling this world through with him-enough of it to at least rub our noses in it and make us acknowledge some collective responsibility--is precious. These are angry pages."―David Simon, author of The Corner and creator, HBO's The Wire
"THE COOK UP delivers a raw and honest account of life in East Baltimore and a narrative of incredible strength and redemption. D. Watkins is truly an artist."―King Mez, hip-hop artist
"D. Watkins is his generation's David Simon. Another brilliant storyteller who takes you into the heart of East Baltimore and never flinches as he shows you the real."―Touré, author of Who's Afraid of Post-Blackness? What It Means to Be Black Now
"Amazing storytelling that brings us deep into the reality of East Baltimore. A moving and important piece of contemporary memoir."―Wes Moore, New York Times bestselling author of The Work and The Other Wes Moore
"THE COOK UP is an important story for both black and white America, as well as this country's political leadership, to read, if we're truly going to tackle the challenges that are facing our communities all across the country."―Chuck Todd, correspondent on NBC's Meet the Press
"THE COOK UP is classic and cinematic, told with an observational acuity that hits you where it hurts."―Frannie Kelley, host of NPR's Microphone Check
"THE COOK UP is an unflinching, raw, coming-of-age account of the personal impact of the drug trade. Simply a must-read."―DeRay Mckesson, activist and organizer
"D. Watkins' THE COOK UP is a bold, necessary dispatch from the streets, where a kid born into a hustler's life must fight for survival-and his soul. Watkins may have been a drug dealer, but he was caught up in his own addictions: To rampant consumerism, the numbness of Percocets, and a fantasy of the high-flying American dream. His book shows the astonishing evolution of a man who traded cheap fixes for the mighty power of the written word."―Sarah Hepola, New York Times bestselling author of Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget
"Bleakly humorous, original prose, which pinballs between stoned, brand-focused, hip-hop excess and a more contemplative tone...Watkins provides a gritty, vivid first-person document of a desperate demographic."―Kirkus Reviews
About the Author
D. Watkins is a columnist for Salon. His work has been published in the New York Times, Guardian, Rolling Stone, and other publications. He holds a master's in Education from Johns Hopkins University and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Baltimore. He is a college professor at the University of Baltimore and founder of the BMORE Writers Project. Watkins has been the recipient of numerous awards including Ford's Men of Courage and a BME Fellowship. Watkins is from and lives in East Baltimore. He is the author of The Beast Side: Living (and Dying) While Black in America.
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But from the first page, Watkins gives us a sense of the price and danger of The Game. Because most people lose, emotional attachments leave many young men shattered - and numb. There are glorious highs, of course, and Watkins isn't afraid to use heightened language to describe the thrill of success, from the incredible profits to the clout that allowed him and his underage friends prime seats at the clubs. It's full of life and unforgettable characters, all sketched with just the right amount of detail. But danger is everywhere, from the stress of watching your back to shakedowns by crooked, abusive police to the paranoia that can turn childhood friends into rivals and enemies. Extreme violence is common, but, as Watkins relays it, always shocking and visceral. It's quite a trip, and Watkins uses sharp and smart writing to put us right in the center of it all. The Cook Up is as exciting, suspenseful, and morally ambivalent as a Richard Price novel - don't be surprised when it gets optioned for a feature film. It's that kind of read.
As an extension of The Beast Side, Watkins' outstanding collection of essays about life in Baltimore, The Cook Up furthers his ideas about drug culture in America. Without resorting to lecture, Watkins illustrates that there never really was a "War on Drugs," but a war on poor minorities; drugs are simply part of the ammunition. Watkins and his friends reason that they didn't create the demand for drugs - they're simply meeting demand with supply. But he need to get high as a temporary respite is simply the by-product of a class system designed to prevent anyone from actually escaping poverty. Even as a teenage slinger, Watkins cannot ignore the human toll of his line of work - while he tries to provide balance by being a positive presence in his neighborhood, employing junkies and giving away hundreds of thousands in clothing and merchandise, he knows that when he's gone, someone else will take his place, and the cycle of poverty, poor health, and violence will continue.
There's a lot more. Read The Cook Up. It's a quick read - mostly because you won't put it down until the last word - but it'll stay with you a long, long time.
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about the drug dealing life.