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Honky

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This intensely personal and engaging memoir is the coming-of-age story of a white boy growing up in predominantly African-American and Latino housing ... Show synopsis

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Reviews of Honky

Overall customer rating: 4.000
yvasb

Interesting story

by yvasb on Jul 16, 2009

Having grown up in a NYC housing project and engaged in writing my own book on the topic, I was interested in reading about Conley's everyday life in Alphabet City. Conley's book reminded me a little of Norman Podhoretz's essay My Negro Problem -- And Ours. I'm not an adherent of Podhoretz's politics but I thought Podhoretz's piece was very good because of its personal honesty (my Jewish working class family was, like Podhoretz's, from Brownsville, Brooklyn). I had one small problem with Conley's book. It was in his interjection of academic sociology into the text, detracting from the text's personal nature. Yes, he is a sociologist. But he is also a memoirist, and his memory should do the speaking. For example, in an episode in chapter 9, a minority kid almost stabs Conley and steals Conley's precious baseball glove. At the end of the chapter the author more or less excuses the bully with a short exegesis on the privilege of the middle and upper classes. It is as if he put these interjections into the book for fear of being seen as prejudiced. If he would have left them out, the book would have been better (and only a careless reader would have thought him prejudiced). The sociology detracts from the here-and-now that Dalton the child is feeling. Podhoretz doesn't do that, and pours out the his and his family members' awful feelings. That kind of terrible honesty makes for good writing.

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