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Manchild in the Promised Land 1st Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
Most of all, for me, Brown's memoir is filled with regret for the many from his Harlem neighborhood who died, victims of crime, poverty, alcoholism and drug addiction. Indeed, one could say that one of the major characters of his story is heroin, which Brown describes as the scourge of his generation. The power of heroin to destroy is most poignantly described in Brown's recounting of his relationship with his younger brother. Claude took his responsibilities as an older brother seriously, but his younger brother fell victim to addiction, and Brown was forced to admit that he had lost him.
As the book develops, an interesting change occurs in Brown's narrative voice. In the early stages, he describes with a defiant pride his wild exploits as a child and adolescent, which landed him in juvenile homes, and nearly got him killed. As he describes himself getting older and he eventually leaves Harlem, Brown's voice takes on a mixture of affection and regret as he talks about going back to the neighborhood and seeing old friends, many of whom had fallen on hard times.
In the end, Brown's story is one of achievement. While he escapes the poverty of his youth, he refuses to forget his roots. In this sense, "Manchild"'s spiritual descendant is Sandra Cisneros' great novella, "The House on Mango Street," whose main character realizes that one must "go away to come back." Brown forges an inspirational story that overcomes despair in its power to shape memory and find meaning in a difficult life.
Only after Brown moved to Greenwich Village shortly before turning twenty was he able to begin viewing Harlem with a more objective eye, and see the factors that led him down the downward spiral he had been traveling. One of the main reasons Brown believes he and his friends were wrought with such violence and recklessness is due to the mentality imported by their parents from the South. The thing that mattered most to them was fighting: for one's money, girl/family, and manhood (Brown 260). He feels that that rural mentality had been brought to a crowded city life that was not only incompatible with the setting, but also destructive. He laments, "it seems as though if I had stayed in Harlem all my life, I might have never known that there was anything else to life other than sex, religion, liquor, and violence" (Brown 281).
As a youth, Brown excelled in these very base attributes. It wasn't until the introduction of heroine, or "horse," as it was first introduced in the early 1950s, that he feels Harlem truly became unable to cope with their values.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Just received book, shipping took a month if not more. Can't wait to read.Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
Love this book. I guess I have read this book about 5 times. I get something new from it each time because I have read it at different stages in my life. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Adrian Peterson
One of our teachers in 1970's NJ would read to us from this book [and Down These Mean Streets] so that as teens we could see how rough some kids had it. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Hotmann
This is a tough book to read.
It's fascinating and hard to look away though. The writing is very straightforward, there's no mixing metaphors or prose-y approach to the... Read more
Very real, written in colloquial terms from the 'hood' off the fifties. No embellishments, straight talk about growing up in Harlem,Published 10 months ago by Absnyd