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The Shooting: A Memoir

Powers, Kemp

21 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 1568583206 / ISBN 13: 9781568583204
Published by Thunder's Mouth Press, New York, 2004
Condition: Fine Hardcover
From Black Falcon Books (Wellesley, MA, U.S.A.)

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About this Item

First printing, full number line. Signed by the author on the front endpaper: "Kemp Powers." Hard to beat "When I was fourteen, I shot my best friend in the face and watched him die" as an opening sentence. Book is tight, square, and unmarked; the dust jacket is not price-clipped (original price $22.00); "Autographed Copy" sticker on front panel. Brodart protected. Bookseller Inventory # 003596

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Bibliographic Details

Title: The Shooting: A Memoir

Publisher: Thunder's Mouth Press, New York

Publication Date: 2004

Binding: Hard Cover

Book Condition:Fine

Dust Jacket Condition: Fine

Signed: Signed by Author

Edition: First Edition

About this title


Kemp Powers was a good kid, an honors student, raised by a single mother in Brooklyn in the mid-1980s. Like many children, he lived in the sheltered world of his family and neighborhood. He was oblivious to the violence around him.

As a black teenager going to junior high in a white neighborhood, Kemp became acutely aware of the racial tension and violence bubbling up in New York (think Bernard Goetz and Howard Beach and crack cocaine). This, along with an adolescent interest in guns, changed Kemp's life forever.

In 1987, Kemp accidentally shot his best friend. His parents didn't press charges, and Kemp was forgiven by everyone, including the state of New York. But Kemp couldn't forgive himself. He thought about Henry every day and made a promise to never make a mistake again — a promise a child naively made that the adult couldn't keep.

From Publishers Weekly:

One fine day in April 1988, Powers, a 14-year-old Brooklyn honors student, came home from school with two pals. Showing off a bit—just fooling around, really—he took out one of his mom's handguns and accidentally shot and killed his best friend. Although his friend's family forgave him, Powers never forgave himself. A year of counseling offered little to a young man consumed with guilt; the compassionate silence of his family and friends only helped him suppress the pain. He channeled his energies into his academic work and, later, a successful career in journalism (Forbes, Newsweek, Vibe, Savoy, etc.). Only Powers's baby daughter's sudden crisis—life-threatening febrile seizures—brought him back to thinking about "the Shooting." The baby survived, but her fragility triggered an intense reaction in Powers; he suffered increasingly debilitating anxiety and panic attacks. Medication eventually helped, although his marriage didn't survive. He slid into alcohol, fantasized suicide. By the end of the book, Powers has made a very tentative, fragile peace with his past. There are no polemics, not about gun control or racism or other issues his story could raise. This is simply writing from the heart, and it's powerful. 12 pages of b&w photos not seen by PW. FYI:A story-length version of this book appeared in Esquire in December 2002.
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