UNDERTOW: The Story of a Boy Called Tony by Helen Parkhurst

UNDERTOW: The Story of a Boy Called Tony

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This odd story is the result of tape-recordings from 1955 to 1961: the long interchange between a prominent educator and a growing juvenile delinquent called ""Tony"". ""Tony"" was twelve when the recordings began. A bright, neglected, rebellious child, he joined gangs, and, at seventeen, made a staggering amount of money as a sharp dope-seller in his Harlem neighborhood, recompensing himself for many childhood deprivations but also exercising his skills and intelligence until he was caught and sent to jail. His way back, through marriage, bricklaying jobs, the birth of two children and the hope of their future, despite constant threats from the old gang, is hopefully recorded. He is finally caught and shot by the gang. This is a rather remarkable collaboration. Miss Parkhurst has a terrible if trained innocence; ""Tony's"" verbatim remarks have an equally terrifying natural wisdom. Yet in the long stretches where she interprets him as a human being and as a tragedy, she shows increasing skill. A singular, moving story, most extraordinary in the influence of the two disparate tellers upon one another.

Pub Date: April 7th, 1963
Publisher: Farrar Straus & Co.