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Street Kingdom: Five Years Inside the Franklin Avenue Posse Paperback – February 1, 2000
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Rookie author Douglas Century delivers a gritty account of street life in urban America. Street Kingdom started out in 1992 as an odd-couple friendship between Century, a Jewish-Canadian Princeton alum, and Big K, a black New Yorker trying to overcome his criminal past and become a rap star. Their five-year relationship--full of culture clashes at turns funny, depressing, and harrowing--allows Century to examine prison life, the sociology of gangs, and the meaning of success in the 1990s. Big K is an irresistible character study: a 270-pound, larger-than-life, one-man melting pot with roots in Jamaica and Panama. His raps blend Caribbean slang, Spanish influences, and the sensibilities (and insensibilities) of urban America. The book's heavy use of profanity may be authentic, but it's also numbing, and Century's decision to use aliases diminishes his otherwise fine journalism. Yet there is much to recommend: the narrative is strong, and Century (who has written for Forward and the New York Times) occasionally recalls the powerful work of Alex Kotlowitz and Ron Suskind. Readers interested in the human side of urban pathology will want to discover this promising new talent. --John J. Miller --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
It is hard to imagine any outsider writing about contemporary black street life with more integrity and sustained, impassioned curiosity than Century. His five-year chronicle of the Franklin Avenue Posse, a Brooklyn street gang, is at once mesmerizing, humorous and tragic. In 1992, then a freelance writer and music critic, Century befriended a rapper he calls Big K. Century hung out with Big K for three years before he decided to write about the experience. By that time, he had heard Big K's stories of his past: his days in juvenile detention homes; his bouts as a boxer; his participation in the violent drug wars of the 1980s as a member of the Posse. Century had also met many of his new friend's former running mates, many of whom, like Big K, were now struggling to stay straight. Holding all the narrative threads together is the person of Big K, a charismatic Caribbean-American (the descendant of Jamaicans who migrated to Panama) with bullet scars in his shoulders. The friendship between Century, who's white, and Big K is remarkable, and the many instances of misunderstanding between them are as funny as they are revealing: Big K asks Century if he wants to "take some money"; Century thinks he's being asked to commit a crime when, in fact, Big K is using street slang for weightlifting; then, at the gym, Big K suavely stows his loaded .45 in Century's locker. A heady mixture of reportage and memoir, Century's book shatters both the demonizing and the romantic stereotypes readers may have of inner-city black men. It brings the fullness of their lives?the violence, the desire, the dazzling intelligence and energy struggling for constructive outlets?to the page with stunning candor and humanity.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
Lets take race out of it, I am sure that in New York you have tough Irish and Italian and Jews who would have handed special K's ass back to him in a street fight. But that is not what the book is about, in my opinion this book is about a failed system-to inlude a dysfunctional family. These thing happen and the Author did a very good job in showing this. I hope schools read this book and students of sociology and criminal justice majors read this book.
Black men wanting to make a difference should read the book. It demonstrates the places in these kids lives where a differnce could be made. It also demonstrates the need for capitol punishment. Some pople will not get rehabilitated. Some people need death. In my opinion to many people got hurt and in New York honest people can not have guns only criminals get guns. Where are you at N.R.A.?
This book is a must read.
I dare you to comment...nicca!
When opening the book, the way that Douglas meets "K" (his real name appears nowhere in the book) seems highly unlikely. Coming up to an MC in a club known for showcasing underground rappers and this journalist being comfortable enough to introduce himself and leave his number just doesn't seem likely. However, after getting into the story and learning about K's life, his story becomes a page turner.
I struggled between feeling pity for K, while also finding myself busting out laughing at his reactions and judgement calls. I would say by far one of the highlights of the book for me is when K asks the author to teach him to speak Yiddish. Just the image of these rather large, burly, rough looking men speaking a language that they are not expected to speak just seemed ridiculous.
For a well thought out, intriguing read, go no further in your search. This book is the real deal.