Walter Dean Myers Bad Boy: A Memoir

ISBN 13: 9781435232990

Bad Boy: A Memoir

 
9781435232990: Bad Boy: A Memoir

Into a memoir that is gripping, funny, heartbreaking, and unforgettable, Walter Dean Myers richly weaves the details of his Harlem childhood in the 1940s and 1950s: a loving home life with his adopted parents, Bible school, street games, and the vitality of his neighborhood. Although Walter spent much of his time either getting into trouble or on the basketball court, secretly he was a voracious reader and an aspiring writer. But as his prospects for a successful future diminished, the values he had been taught at home, in school, and in his community seemed worthless, and he turned to the streets and his books for comfort. Here in his own words is the story of one of the strongest voices in children's and young adult literature today.

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About the Author:

Walter Dean Myers is the author of many highly acclaimed books, including Scorpions, a 1989 Newbery Honor Book; Now Is Your Time: The African-American Struggle for Freedom, winner of the 1992 Coretta Scott King Author Award; The Mouse Rap, an ALA Best Book for Young Adults; and Brown Angels: An Album of Pictures and Verse. In 1994, he received the ALA's Margaret A. Edwards Award for lifetime achievement in writing for young adults. Mr. Myers lives in New Jersey with his family.In His Own Words...

I am a product of Harlem and of the values, color, toughness and caring that I found there as a child.I learned my flat jump shot in the church basement and got my first kiss during recess at Bible school.I played the endless street games kids played in the pre-television days and paid enough attention to candy and junk food to dutifully alarm my mother.

From my foster parents, the Deans, I received the love that was ultimately to strengthen me, even when I had forgotten its source.It was my foster mother, a half Indian-half German woman, who taught me to read, though she herself was barely literate.

I had a speech difficulty but didn't view it as anything special.It wasn't necessary for me to be much of a social creature once I discovered books.Books took me, not so much to foreign lands and fanciful adventures, but to a place within myself that I have been constantly exploring ever since.

The George Bruce Branch of the public Library was my most treasured place.I couldn't believe my luck in discovering what I enjoyed most -- reading -- was free.And I was tough enough to carry the books home through the streets without too many incidents.

At sixteen it seemed a good idea to leave school, and so I did.On my seventeenth birthday I joined the army.After the army there were jobs -- some good, some bad, few worth mentioning.Leaving school seemed less like a good idea.

Writing for me has been many things.It was a way to overcome the hindrance of speech problems as I tried to reach out to the world.It was a way of establishing my humanity in a world that often ignores the humanity of those in less favored positions.It was a way to make a few extra dollars when they were badly needed.

What I want to do with the writing keeps changing, too.Perhaps I just get clearer in what it is I am doing.I'm sure that after I'm dead someone will lay it all out nicely.I'd hate to see what kind of biography my cat, Askia, would write about me.Probably something like "Walter Dean Myers had enormous feet, didn't feed me on time, and often sat in my favorite chair."At any rate, what I think I'm doing now is rediscovering the innocence of children that I once took for granted.I cannot relive it or reclaim it, but I can expose it and celebrate it in the books I write.I really like people -- I mean I really like people -- and children are some of the best people I know.

I've always felt it a little pretentious to write about yourself, but it's not too bad if you don't write too much.-- Walter Dean Myers

From AudioFile:

The world knows Myers as a gifted black writer. In BAD BOY, he tells us about growing up in Harlem in the 1950s. Though he was athletic and energetic, he also had a passion for reading. Secretly he haunted libraries, reading stories, poems, even philosophy as he hunted for his voice. That, even more than fighting and basketball, defined who he was. Acclaimed actor Joe Morton reads Myers's transition from "bad boy" to writer as if it were fiction. His voice is tight, sharp, at times attacking the reader, at times laughing at the ironies and complexities of growing up in Harlem. Above all, Morton makes sure we hear Myers's crisp prose. For young writers unsure of how or where to find their own voices, Myers points the way. P.E.F. © AudioFile 2001, Portland, Maine-- Copyright © AudioFile, Portland, Maine

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