Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Less Cool By Degrees

A mixed-race young man’s personal culture wars

Thomas Chatterton Williams grew up in the white part of town. In New Jersey. You understand how he is drawn to the black culture he sees in the hip-hop images on the TV in the black barbershop he is driven to every couple weeks. You’re stirred along with him when he finds that new, proud part of his life to identify with. You recognize why he wants to. Part of you wants to too. That’s part of why you’re reading the book.

But he’s not all that. And it doesn’t accommodate all of him. He’s his parents’ kid. Intellectual aspirations are as much a part of him as his basketball and his music. Just hearing that, you can tell it’s a good story. And it’s told well. Williams is lean and truthful. Just like he looks.
Adults and high-school kids will like it. Nothing not to like.

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