NIGGER by

NIGGER

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

Perhaps a more talented amanuensis or a stricter editor would have made the nationally prominent Negro's autobiography a better book. Whole passages are memorable for the sense of attempted total honesty. It was a brutal childhood. Abandoned by a flashy husband she never ceased to love and occasionally welcome, Mrs. Gregory raised her children to laugh and even managed to laugh herself while she put in a killing schedule at work in white homes, leaving her children untended and ?nfed. The necessity of cheating the relief agency, the drive that made him first a great track star in high school and a greater one in college, the vanity that forced him into grand gestures and bigger lies make compelling reading. So does the story of his marriage and the struggle to perfect his gifts as a comedian. Perhaps it is honesty that is responsible for the sections about his active civil rights work (he literally risked his neck in demonstrations in the North and South) that read with more hatred than righteous anger. His diatribes against ""Whitey,"" his sneers about the benefits of college for Negroes who may not find the work they are qualified for, the confusion evident in his goals for civil rights effort can only make you wonder what direction or attitude Negro youngsters might justify from this book. He says part of his success as the first Negro comedian to achieve a national audience is due to his avoidance of blue material. It is both unfortunate and ironic that he did not exercise the same care over his life story. The presence of the really offensive four letter words and scatological curses are an unnecessary factor here nor are they defensible as a concommitant to the surrealistic squalor he rose from or the indignities he has been subjected to.

Publisher: Dutton