A memoir of a religious, gay black man coming to terms with his own nuanced achievement of the American dream in the new millennium.
The narrative opens in 1999, with the 12-year-old author waiting for the end, praying nervously in his grandfather’s evangelical church before the turn of the millennium: “Lord, please take me with You when You come. That is all I have to ask of God, and I will get my answer soon. It is 11:57.” When midnight passes without incident, the meaning of the book’s title becomes manifest. The son of a star quarterback, Gerald grew up on the poor side of Dallas, where he also excelled at football, and he soon moved on to the distant planets of higher education and elite society. As he writes, “I have been so many things along my curious journey: a poor boy, a nigger, a Yale man, a Harvard man, a faggot, a Christian, a crack baby (alleged), the spawn of Satan, the Second Coming, Casey.” The author deftly navigates through the events shaping those identities: the months of his first true romance, his time at Yale and Harvard Business School, where he earned a master’s degree in business and was a Rhodes Scholar finalist; Wall Street; and a stint in Washington, D.C., on the strong career advice to “be a special assistant to someone at the top.” Along the way, Gerald examines the subtext underlying the clashing realities of his experiences and observations. “[I was] a boy defined by his circumstances,” the author writes in nearly the middle of the well-paced narrative, “perhaps we all are—just seven billion Eves made from the rib of our Adam-circumstance—but why do we lie about it? Why don’t we want to believe it? Is it that it shames us to admit how limited our power is, how much we can submit—have submitted—to the things we did not choose?”
Hardly a by-the-numbers memoir, this is a powerful book marked by the author’s refreshingly complicated and insightful storytelling.