My Main Mother is a novel about growing up. Without a father. With a mother who is beautiful, promiscuous, avidly ambitious. In a small town in Maine. In the human jungle of New York. Growing up defiant and scared, happy and torn up. Growing up black. And growing up human. It is, quite simply, one of the most remarkable novels in years.
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Considered one of the most innovative prose writers at work today, Barry Beckham has impressed legions of readers with his novels and nonfiction articles. He has also published college guides for black students and one dramatic work about Marcus Garvey.
At age 25, Beckham published his first novel, My Main Mother in 1969, a month after his first published article appeared in Esquire. Begun in his senior year at Brown University, the novel describing a young black man's search for identity received widespread critical acclaim. A year later he was back at Brown -- on the faculty this time, where he remained for 17 years teaching creative writing and black literature. After teaching two years at Hampton University, Beckham retired in 1987 to become a freelance writer and book publisher.
His second novel, Runner Mack was published in 1972, and was followed by Double Dunk, a novelized biography of Harlem basketball player, Earl Manigault. Beckham also wrote his only play while at Brown--Garvey Lives! produced in 1973 by George Bass, director of the Rites and Reasons theater group.
He began his portrait of the Chase Manhattan Bank in 1972 because he felt that he had a unique perspective on a landmark institution and the personalities that ran it. After college in 1966, he had accepted a scholarship to Columbia Law School in New York, but withdrew after two months. Looking for employment, he suddenly found himself on Wall Street, as a public relations writer for Chase Manhattan. There he established relationships with Chase's top executives, and he continued to stay in touch with them as he worked on the book. "The coincidences were uncanny," he recalls.
"My first real contact with David Rockefeller came after, seeing an advertisement about My Main Mother in the New York Times, he sent me a congratulatory note. He called me Chase's first bona fide novelist." Then Beckham's research pointed to the view that there may not have been a Chase if John D. Rockefeller, Jr. had not gone to Brown and met and married a senator's daughter. And as he was beginning his research, Bill Butcher, a Brown trustee and alumnus, was named president of the bank. "I asked for an interview, and suddenly one Friday around five p.m., Butcher was calling to ask if he could come by my home on Saturday to talk."
While he was working on the Chase book, an editor from New York called, asking Beckham if he would write the story of Harlem basketball star, Earl Manigault. Beckham interrupted his bank portrait to write the autobiography, choosing the second-person point of view, a stylistic challenge that is typical of his prose innovations. Then his editor left the publishing house, and Double Dunk was not released for another five years.
Raised in Atlantic City, NJ, Beckham, after nearly two decades of teaching at the collegiate level, has maintained his interest in working with young people. He published the first edition of the Black Student's Guide to Colleges in 1982 and has continued to update the work and give workshops at high schools and colleges. In 1985, sponsored by the Urban League, he spoke during a six-day stint to more than 2,000 Cleveland black high schoolers about the college selection process. In 1988, sponsored by the Xerox Corporation, Beckham offered a summer creative writing workshop for black high school students at Hampton. Now he's planning a national teleconference on college and career choices for African Americans in high school.
After finishing his insider's profile of the Chase Manhattan Bank, Beckham plans to return to the novel he began in 1983 with a National Endowment for the Arts creative writing fellowship: "It chronicles a black man's search for love in the 90s," he says.Review:
"A fine and sensitive story..." -- Publishers Weekly
"A fresh and original talent...a different kind of story... -- Washington Star
"A novel of penetrating personal insight..." -- A.L.A. Booklist
"A novel that is black, bittersweet and beautiful...Barry Beckham may well become one of the best novelists of the decade..." -- New York Times Sunday Book Review
A novel that will haunt the reader long after he has finished it." --Nashville Tennessean
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Book Description Atlasbooks Dist Serv, 2005. PAP. Book Condition: New. New Book. Shipped from US within 10 to 14 business days. Established seller since 2000. Bookseller Inventory # T9-9780931761928
Book Description Beckham Publications Group, Inc, United States, 2005. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . This book usually ship within 10-15 business days and we will endeavor to dispatch orders quicker than this where possible. Brand New Book. This is a novel about growing up. Without a father. With a mother who is beautiful, promiscuous, avidly ambitious. In a small town in Maine. In the human jungle of New York. Growing up defiant and scared, happy and torn up. Growing up black. And growing up human. It is, quite simply, one of the most remarkable novels in years. Bookseller Inventory # BTE9780931761928
Book Description Beckham Publications Group, 2005. Perfect Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX0931761921
Book Description Beckham Publications Group, 2005. Paperback. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # M0931761921
Book Description Beckham Pubns, 2005. Paperback. Book Condition: Brand New. 192 pages. 8.20x5.40x0.60 inches. In Stock. Bookseller Inventory # 0931761921
Book Description 2005. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Paperback. My Main Mother is a novel about growing up. Without a father. With a mother who is beautiful, promiscuous, avidly ambitious. In a small town in Maine. In the human jungle of N.Shipping may be from our Sydney, NSW warehouse or from our UK or US warehouse, depending on stock availability. 192 pages. 0.263. Bookseller Inventory # 9780931761928