OUT OF THE MADNESS by Jerrold Ladd


From the Projects to a Life of Hope
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 A 23-year-old black man's memoir of his traumatic life in the ghettos of Dallas is undermined by awkward writing and dubious, sometimes offensive, judgments. Son of a heroin-addicted mother who moved from man to man and apartment to apartment, Ladd grew up in a world of hunger, drugs, and violence. Though he suffered the humiliation of being a ``free lunch kid'' in school, he developed a love of reading and sought to better himself. He struggled to find jobs, succumbing at one stage to committing robbery, but finally emerged as a good worker and a dedicated father to his child. Though now a contributor to the Dallas Morning-News, Ladd regularly writes clunkers (``a new guy was impeding upon his unblemished rap fame'') and repeatedly refers to his housing project as a ``Hitler camp.'' Bright, angry, and not very informed, Ladd presents a disturbing mix of generalization and misinformation about race: By age eight, he observes, blacks are already ``real mature about relationships between men and women''; he and his cohorts, he claims, were ``programmed'' by gangster rap; the armed forces, he asserts, provide no opportunities for blacks; after a white man helps him get a job, he proclaims that successful blacks are just Uncle Toms; after reading The Autobiography of Malcolm X, he doesn't gain a more nuanced sense of identity and history, but instead embraces a cartoon Afrocentrism. Voices from ``the other America'' are worth cultivating, but Ladd should have waited to gain perspective and to work on his craft. (Author tour)

Pub Date: July 12th, 1994
ISBN: 0-446-51744-5
Page count: 208pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 1994