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Slapboxing with Jesus

LaValle, Victor D.

332 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0375705902 / ISBN 13: 9780375705908
Published by Vintage, New York, 1999
Condition: Very Good Soft cover
From Monroe Street Books (Middlebury, VT, U.S.A.)

AbeBooks Seller Since December 5, 1997

Quantity Available: 1

About this Item

213 pages, SIGNED BY AUTHOR on title page. Minor corner wear, otherwise, very clean and tight copy. Record # 455963. Bookseller Inventory # 455963

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Slapboxing with Jesus

Publisher: Vintage, New York

Publication Date: 1999

Binding: Soft cover

Book Condition:Very Good

Dust Jacket Condition: None

Signed: Signed by Author(s)

About this title

Synopsis:

Twelve original and interconnected stories in the traditions of Junot Díaz and Sherman Alexie. Victor D. LaValle's astonishing, violent, and funny debut offers harrowing glimpses at the vulnerable lives of young people who struggle not only to come of age, but to survive the city streets.

In "ancient history," two best friends graduating from high school fight to be the one to leave first for a better world; each one wants to be the fortunate son. In "pops," an African-American boy meets his father, a white cop from Connecticut, and tries not to care. And in "kids on colden street," a boy is momentarily uplifted by the arrival of a younger sister only to discover that brutality leads only to brutality in the natural order of things.

Written with raw candor, grit, and a cautious heart, slapboxing with jesus introduces an exciting and bold new craftsman of contemporary fiction. LaValle's voices echo long after their stories are told.

Review:

Victor D. LaValle grew up in Queens, New York, an African American male in a city and a country where guys who look like him are made to feel like interlopers. His debut collection, Slapboxing with Jesus, is hard-edged, violent, poetic. As in Junot Diaz's Drown, the prose is a series of choppy, precise sentences, like jabs ("The NYU banners flapped with the wind, loud enough to sound like teeth cracking in your head"), and the stories take place in small stuffy apartments where walls are inadequate shields against the loud and inescapable neighborhood.

Like Diaz, LaValle is pretty merciless when it comes to the subject of women. As the title suggests, this is a macho book. The opening sentence of the first story begins, "The next morning I was still scratching my nuts." Readers without nuts might be a little put off. The love that occurs in these pages is between brothers, between guys who have known each other since they were kids and who have tried to bail each other out, set each other up, find a whore they can both share. In the powerful three-page story "Chuckie," even boyhood bonds break apart in the face of a violent Italian gang. When the title character is beat up, the narrator realizes that he can only protect himself: "The blood started coming. I didn't know a face had so much. Helping was still an option for the others, but not me..."

The highlight of the book is "Ghost Story." Like Denis Johnson's famous "Car Crash While Hitchhiking," it renders paranoid delusions from the first person--and bit by bit the prose collapses as the narrator's medication wears off. Here he recalls a stint in a mental hospital:

Just the hours that were eons sitting on a couch, a row of ten of you, ten or twenty, no books, magazines too simple for the mildly retarded and your active mind leaps further and further over an empty cosmos, as lonely as the satellites sent to find life in the universe. But in there, at least, was when I'd realized how they waged their war, my enemies: through sockets and plugs, through a current.
Such passages establish LaValle as a writer to be reckoned with, one capable of transporting the reader to a strange and terrible interior. --Emily White

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Monroe Street Books. Owners: Richard and Flanzy Chodkowski. Mailing address: Monroe Street Books, 70 Monroe Street, Middlebury, Vermont 05753 USA. Store Located at: 1485 Route 7 North, Middlebury, Vermont 05753 USA. Phone: 1-802-398-2200 Email: books@monroestreetbooks.com
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