An inspirational account about a man’s journey on a dark path with the bright light of redemption at its end.

NO REGRETS

THE JOURNEY

In this debut book, an ex-gangster recounts the supposed glamour of street life along with horrific lessons learned in prison and disturbing secrets.

Pepe Santos was born in East New York City to a large Puerto Rican family, growing up on the streets of Brooklyn with seven siblings in the 1960s. Living on welfare and community center peanut butter and cheese; dealing with an abusive, unemployed, and alcoholic father; and refusing to tolerate school, he realized that a life hustling on the streets was a distinct possibility. But after being molested by a friend’s older brother, he discovered a darkness forming within him. What followed was the transformation of a glue-sniffing, shoplifting punk into a brutal, drug-addicted gangbanger, leaving in his wake a series of broken relationships with needy women, family members, and even his two sons. A harrowing flashback to his molestation during an attempted rape in his first stint in “Gladiator School”—aka Rikers Island—led him to a long and violent conflict with a well-connected Dominican drug dealer. But after getting out of New York, finding a good role model and a lover to hang onto, and making friends with law enforcement personnel, Santos gained a chance for introspection and redemption. LaFosse’s book reveals its biggest truth right off—that the author is Santos, once a criminal and now a mentor, counselor, and bounty hunter. Few memoirs are as bluntly candid as this one, in which the author recalls shootouts and prison life in a manner not for the fainthearted while admitting to weaponizing sex, using women, and taking drugs. The volume is incredibly dense, with something new and often tragic occurring on almost every page. Time periods are marked by trends such as graffiti art or disco, and characters like the gay pusher Lollipop and the dancing hit man Mambo leap off the page. Touching moments, such as Santos’ heartbreaking goodbye to his dying father and the accidental death of a gang member during a brawl, could easily have been lost in such a glut of information yet the narrative manages to give them their necessary weight. Numerous photographs are included, many in color, further setting each scene.

An inspirational account about a man’s journey on a dark path with the bright light of redemption at its end.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-946300-75-1

Page Count: 220

Publisher: Stillwater River Publications

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

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Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and...

THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS

A dense, absorbing investigation into the medical community's exploitation of a dying woman and her family's struggle to salvage truth and dignity decades later.

In a well-paced, vibrant narrative, Popular Science contributor and Culture Dish blogger Skloot (Creative Writing/Univ. of Memphis) demonstrates that for every human cell put under a microscope, a complex life story is inexorably attached, to which doctors, researchers and laboratories have often been woefully insensitive and unaccountable. In 1951, Henrietta Lacks, an African-American mother of five, was diagnosed with what proved to be a fatal form of cervical cancer. At Johns Hopkins, the doctors harvested cells from her cervix without her permission and distributed them to labs around the globe, where they were multiplied and used for a diverse array of treatments. Known as HeLa cells, they became one of the world's most ubiquitous sources for medical research of everything from hormones, steroids and vitamins to gene mapping, in vitro fertilization, even the polio vaccine—all without the knowledge, must less consent, of the Lacks family. Skloot spent a decade interviewing every relative of Lacks she could find, excavating difficult memories and long-simmering outrage that had lay dormant since their loved one's sorrowful demise. Equal parts intimate biography and brutal clinical reportage, Skloot's graceful narrative adeptly navigates the wrenching Lack family recollections and the sobering, overarching realities of poverty and pre–civil-rights racism. The author's style is matched by a methodical scientific rigor and manifest expertise in the field.

Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and Petri dish politics.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4000-5217-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2010

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A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor...

INTO THE WILD

The excruciating story of a young man on a quest for knowledge and experience, a search that eventually cooked his goose, told with the flair of a seasoned investigative reporter by Outside magazine contributing editor Krakauer (Eiger Dreams, 1990). 

Chris McCandless loved the road, the unadorned life, the Tolstoyan call to asceticism. After graduating college, he took off on another of his long destinationless journeys, this time cutting all contact with his family and changing his name to Alex Supertramp. He was a gent of strong opinions, and he shared them with those he met: "You must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life''; "be nomadic.'' Ultimately, in 1992, his terms got him into mortal trouble when he ran up against something—the Alaskan wild—that didn't give a hoot about Supertramp's worldview; his decomposed corpse was found 16 weeks after he entered the bush. Many people felt McCandless was just a hubris-laden jerk with a death wish (he had discarded his map before going into the wild and brought no food but a bag of rice). Krakauer thought not. Admitting an interest that bordered on obsession, he dug deep into McCandless's life. He found a willful, reckless, moody boyhood; an ugly little secret that sundered the relationship between father and son; a moral absolutism that agitated the young man's soul and drove him to extremes; but he was no more a nutcase than other pilgrims. Writing in supple, electric prose, Krakauer tries to make sense of McCandless (while scrupulously avoiding off-the-rack psychoanalysis): his risky behavior and the rites associated with it, his asceticism, his love of wide open spaces, the flights of his soul.

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor will it to readers of Krakauer's narrative. (4 maps) (First printing of 35,000; author tour)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-42850-X

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Villard

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1995

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