Thursday, October 13, 2011

Autobiography of My Dead Brother


Walter Dean Myers writes nonfiction, short stories, and some amazing novels. Autobiography of My Dead Brother is one of those novels, a National Book Award Finalist, in fact. Myers' descriptions and dialog ring true:

"On a serious tip" -- Calvin held his hand up -- "there was one more thing that Mason asked me about."
"He's out of jail?" Rise asked.
"No, but his trial is coming up soon," Calvin said. "He told me that he wants the Counts to rough up the bodega store owner. Send him a message."
"He wants what?" Benny put his soda down. "And what did you say behind that?"
"The only witness against him is the store owner," Calvin said. "He said that if we went over and pushed him, you know, scared him, he probably wouldn't testify."
"Yo, man, that is so not together," Benny said. "The dude's in jail and looking for company. He ain't getting my mama's child for a roommate."
"He said he didn't do it," Calvin said. "He said the Man is jacking him up and the store owner is going along with it."
"I'm not messing with it," Benny said. "You can bet on that."
"I didn't even hear what you said," Gun said.
"I got to decide." Rise had draped his sweater over a box and now picked it up and started putting it on. "Maybe we should be the no-Counts instead of the Counts. I don't know, if we're not willing to stand up for each other, maybe we should forget about the rest of the thing and just move on in our separate ways. No big thing. Eventually you reach manhood, then you got to go through or turn around and go back."
"This isn't about manhood," C.J. said. "This is about crime."
"Oh? Is Mason guilty?" Rise asked. "You know that? Or you just figure if a black man is arrested, he's automatically guilty?"
"Suppose he is guilty?" Gun asked.
"If it gets down to the word of a store owner against Mason, are they going to find him guilty?" Rise asked.
"Probably," C.J. said. "If he says that Mason was the one who stuck him up."

I've liked everything I've read by Walter Dean Myers. If you like this one, I can recommend Slam!, Sunrise Over Fallujah, Somewhere in the Darkness, Monster, and the list goes on!


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