ONCE A KING, ALWAYS A KING by Reymundo Sanchez


The Unmaking of a Latin King
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Plodding, predictable sequel to former gangbanger Sanchez’s earlier memoir, My Bloody Life (2000).

The pseudonymous author must be enthusiastically applauded for his struggle to extract himself from the jaws of the monster. What cannot be applauded is his prose, which never ventures beyond mediocre. Once again, the author declares he is writing his story as a cautionary tale; once again, he says he has changed his name and other details to protect his family. Once again, his claim is disingenuous: he confessed to murders in the first volume, and the Chicago police presumably would like to know who and where he is. Sanchez begins with his official excommunication from the Kings (they beat him for three minutes) and chronicles subsequent attempts to make it on his own. He fails and is soon trying to live on his rep as an ex-King. Early on, he claims to be taking classes and working as a data-entry clerk at the University of Chicago, but a hundred pages later he applies for the job we thought he already had. We hear about his gradual return to doing and dealing drugs, his serial sexual exploits (some conveyed in enough detail to make Larry Flynt flinch), his deceptions and darknesses. (At least he doesn’t kill anyone this time.) Most attractive women desire him, and he eagerly accommodates them. Lilly waits for him while he’s serving time, but after his release, he trades her in on fellow writing student Michele. After he scares off Michele, next is Marilyn—the love of his life, he claims, though soon enough he’s calling her vile names, hitting her, and threatening to slash her to death. She dumps him after they move to Dallas. He goes to Miami, marries, fathers children, enters therapy. Hardly a sentence goes by without a cliché or a common trinket offered as a crown jewel.


Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2003
ISBN: 1-55652-505-2
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Chicago Review Press
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 2003


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