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Showing 1-10 of 17 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 24 reviews
on September 8, 2013
Kilroy Dondi Vance tells of growing up the mixed race son of graffiti artists Billy Rage and Wren 209. Rage’s crew celebrate Dondi’s 1987 birth by “bombing” trains in the Coney Island Train Yard. Amuse, one of the Immortal Five crew, ends up shot dead by Transit police captain Anastacio Bracken. Rage goes on a bombing run to paint variations on “Bracken killed Amuse” on anything and everything across the city, including a Central Park polar bear. The others in the crew fall to arrest, prison and an unexplained blindness. Billy Rage disappears into Mexico. This is the back story to the novel and I won’t give any spoilers here. The novel takes place in 2008. Rage is rumored dead. NYC train art is but a memory. Bracken is running for mayor. Then someone starts writing wild new art in subway tunnels. Rumors fly. Word is that Rage is back looking for vengeance.

Rage leaves little room across the love/hate spectrum as it is a stylistically strong novel. Dondi’s first person account includes a running meta narrative, such as reflecting on how other authors have evoked drug trips in their writing before he delves into several pages of a surreal journey courtesy of a strange jungle brew drizzled on a blunt. But this fits the prep school scholarship student as the first person narrator with his literary agency-working mom. Sure the author is winking at the reader, but it works in the context of the story. The book also intriguingly blends supernatural elements. Again, I don’t want to spoil things for the readers who will follow. For me the mix works as Mansbach knows his craft. He is an able guide for a foray into a very different life. The result is something like J.D. Salinger’s Haulden Caufield having Edward Abbey’s Hayduke for a father. As I say, this is a blend that you are likely to love or to loathe with no readers left relaxing on the fence.
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on April 11, 2013
Not a bad book but, as an avid reader, I felt it wasn't great! Will read more by this author & then make a real judgement.
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on January 17, 2013
Adam Mansbach has done it again. He's taken a subject I thought I had little interest in -- in this case New York City's graffiti wars of the 1980s -- and spun it into a novel I was reluctant to quit reading. For that you can mostly thank the book's narrator, a kind of hip-hop Holden Caulfield who spices the story with a lot of laugh-out loud lines as he details the rocky return of his father (named Rage in graffiti-speak), who was in hiding for years after a fatal incident involving spray-painting, or "bombing," and an evil transit official now on the rise politically. The man has to be stopped and I'll let the narrator, Kilroy Dondi Vance, tell you how: "This weekend we're gonna bomb every train in the city and force-feed psychedelic drugs to a bunch of security guards, so as to bring down a a mayoral candidate who murked a homeboy of my parents back in the day, although actually a demon might have made him do it." With the help of characters -- and I do mean characters -- with names like Ambassador Dengue Fever, Cloud 9, and Supreme Chemistry, "Rage Is Back" sends you on a wild ride toward the climax, which might require a wee bit of disbelief suspension but is surely fitting. This is Mansbach's best-written book yet, and you can write that on the wall. Better yet, spray-paint it.
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on January 10, 2013
Dengue has seen the return of an artist. Dengue was part of the golden age of grafitti. "Get him going on letter theory and you better clear your day. He"ll take it back to Egyptian hieroglyphs, the ancient Hebrews' Unspeakable True Name of God with its mystery vowels, the science by which Franciscan monks illuminated the opening letter of each chapter in their hand-scribed Bibles."

This is an unlikely book to draw me in, but that paragraph had me at hello. Dondi is the son of the missing Billy Rage. Billy was part of the gang with Dengue in 1989. Then the artists stole with impunity and tagged with panache. The day of Dondi's birth was celebrated with a wild painting session, but one of the gang died in that spree. After grieving for months, (celebrated in paint of course) Billy disappeared. Now there is a rumor that Billy has reappeared in the rain forest with shaman studying mystic symbols. Or Billy has been the artist of the new paint. Devon is reluctant to believe it. He has been thrown out of his "Whoopty Whoo Ivy League Academy" and kicked out of his home. He doesnt really like the constant conversation required of a sofa surfer, but his options are tanking.

The search for Billy takes us to shamanism and mysticism. The author's research has fashioned heroes of these unlikely artists and dragged me into their world and their dreams. I was always a sucker for a little punk sci fi and this book invokes the journey of an underworld that hooked me without my intent. Of course the narrator has warned us away from a quest for "magical realism", so I took my chances. Add in some lyrical language and I had another late night reading binge.
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on February 27, 2013
Rage is Back, is without a doubt, the hippist, most original book I have read in a long time. Consider the times you have driven toward a highway overpass, or sped by the wall of a warehouse and been mesmermized by the graffitti that adorns the space to the point of owning it. That is Rage is Back.
"Rage" of the title is a legendary tagging artist who has disappeared following the unfortunate and brutal death of one of his crew during a tagging foray. What we discover is that Rage has been in South America, with a shaman, taking hallucigenins and imagining the depths of his dispair. This is like urban legend meets Carlos Castaneda, its dreamy, detailed, philosophical and it is all imbedded in a great story about a tagger who marshalls artists from around the world to turn the New York Subway into a canvas for protest to bring down a sadistic politician.
The author brings the process of laying out a job to life. You can almost see the passionate protest come to life in brilliant color on the sides of the subway cars. Be prepared, because the author asks you to learn the street language of this sub-culture as well, at times its like reading a novel in a foreign language. In this way, you become part of the crew, you are not an outsider, but stand as a witness to Rage, his son, and his common law wife's dedication to an old friend.
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on November 19, 2015
Great addition to my collection.
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on August 26, 2014
Can't believe I ordered this
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on February 7, 2013
How this novel became chosen as one of the best of the month is beyond me. This novel centers around a tagging crew who revenge the death of one of their own. In reading this book, I did see where the author was going, and what he was reaching for, but I felt that it was poorly done. I did not feel for any of the characters, and although the author was attempting for authenticity with the accents, slang, and environment, to me it did not add to the story, it only became monotnonous.....I found myself bored overall....I give the author 2 stars for effort, story itself I am giving 1 star....

Christopher Berry
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on January 4, 2014
This is one of he most fun reads that I've been privilege to in the last few years.... Man! I read it cover to cover in 1 and a 1/4 days.. Then re-read it in another three. All I can say is it is awesome. tight, funny, tense and fast paced. Do yourself a favor if you like Hip Hop, Graffiti, New York in the 80's and beyond. This badass book is right up your color blasted alley! With a few twists that will leave a buzz in your head :)
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on March 21, 2013
Language is brilliant in this piece. If reading just for a strong narrative voice (The first sentence stretches on and on in a glut of absurd, oddly sensual description), then you won't be disappointed. However, the story line took so many unexpected twists and turns I could no longer suspend my disbelief.
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