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A novel from D (Got, 2007) about drugs, not baking, set in Atlanta and Brooklyn.

“There’s no time like the first time,” the nameless narrator says at the beginning of this story—and he’s talking about killing, not sex. After an explosion of violence on his home turf in New York City, the narrator hightails it to Atlanta. He hopes, in part, to put the past behind him, transfer his college credits and begin a new life, but his cousin Duronté has other ideas. Duronté is a dangerous combination of hustle and stupidity, and he’s quickly sucked into a scheme way above his head. (Duronté disproves his cousin’s observation that “God always seems to give idiots the help they need.”) The narrator has seen more big-time hustling in NYC than Duronté has seen in a lifetime in Atlanta, so he tries to protect Duronté from what’s sure to come down—though it comes anyway. Characters get offed, iced, rubbed out and liquidated with dizzying frequency, and because double- and triple-crossing tends to be standard operating procedure, it’s not always clear who’s on whose side. While there are no good guys, some are definitely badder than others. The narrator tries to cling to a certain kind of integrity, but because his homeboys keep getting killed (in various imaginative ways), he continues to find ample reason for getting revenge. Both the dialogue and the narrator’s interior voice seem derived from leftover Chandler: “It’s down to you and him. The business is a joke. Your futures are a joke. Nothing matters until you finish this once and for all.” This is a gritty urban world of violence without poetry, sex without love and survival without victory. While on the surface it’s all about the drugs, underneath it’s much more about ambition, respect and street smarts.

How much of a reading audience there is for this inner-city Weltanschauung is the question.

Pub Date: July 1st, 2008
ISBN: 978-1-933354-54-5
Page count: 250pp
Publisher: The Armory/Akashic
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 2008