Customer Reviews for

Honky

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 24, 2007

    An Excellent Memoir About An Exciting Life!

    Honky, by Dalton Conley, is a must read book. Conley had the ability to make me, a Caucasian, feel guilty for having white skin and still make me want to continue reading. His spontaneous ideas and past experiences we read about that have occurred throughout his childhood are thought provoking for the lone reason we all know something to that nature has happened to each of us. Feeling like the outsider and trying to find a way in like Conley does when entering P.S. 41 is just one example. During lunch he asks two kids, Michael and Ozan, if he can sit with them and Ozan responds, ¿Do you know what antidisestablishmentarianism is?¿ Luckily Conley had been listening in to their conversation and was able to say, ¿An-ti-dis-es-tab-lish-men-tar-i-an-ism, means going against one¿s own beliefs¿ 'pg. 67'. The boys allow him to sit with them and he feels a sense of belonging that he never really felt anywhere else. This was partially because he lived in a predominantly Black and Hispanic neighborhood where his sister and he were the only whites. Upon entering I.S. 70, he became friends with Jerome who was black and somehow the way Jerome treated him and acted around him always made him feel accepted on the colored side 'Blacks and Hispanics'. When I.S. 70 was deciding what the music should be for end-of-the year dance, Conley did not know which side of the school to go to. One side was filled with the wealthy privileged kids, Caucasians, and the other with his friends from his neighborhood. Suddenly, ¿Jerome called out, smiled, and patted the seat next to him, beckoning me[Conley] to join him on the disco side¿ 'pg. 142'. From just one specific event we see how Conley feels throughout most of his childhood. Not only did Conley share specific events that anyone can relate to, he gives specific details where not always necessary. Sometimes it is nice and other times distracting. When Conley first goes to P.S. 4 he gives specific details on what the principal was wearing and it takes away from the scene. The principal is telling his mother she is able to select any class she wanted to put her son in because he was the only white child and there was no class for him. All of the other classes were divided by race. Conley writes, ¿I remember staring, transfixed, at his snakeskin boots, feeling as if they might slither around the floor of his office if I took my eyes off them¿ 'pg. 42'. Although this detail is vivid in the mind and creates an image, I find that it distracts from the point of his story, that because he is a ¿honky¿ he can ask to be placed in whatever class his parents would like. Conley is a talented writer who uses his own experiences to open the eyes and minds of others. He shares painful memories, scary experiences, and family crises, as well as memories that make you smile and chuckle to yourself. He will definitely open your eyes to a world beyond yours no matter where you live or when you lived there.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 26, 2006

    A Great Life Story and Sociological Insight

    Honky is a strong memoir Dalton Conley has written a great piece by using narrative and metaphorical language to illustrate general themes dealing with race, class and sociology. His approach is effective Conley fuses the innocent story-telling voice of his youthful self with his present-day authoritative and educated thoughts. In one scene, Conley is asked by peers whether or not he knows the meaning of a word, ¿`An-ti-dis-es-tab-lish-men-tar-i-an-ism,¿ I said carefully, as if I were in a spelling bee, `means going against one¿s own beliefs.¿ I changed their wording slightly in order to disguise the fact that I was merely cribbing from their own definition¿ (Conley 87). Reading the first dialogue, you can really hear the voice of a young boy reciting syllables to a judge. Dalton moves fluidly into his adult voice with the second sentence, as he explains what he was really thinking and doing as he spoke like a sixth-grader. Conley¿s ¿double-layer¿ narration is a style that works well in Honky because it brings an element of critical analysis into scenes dealing with race that are worth understanding more deeply. In one passage, Conley is playing a game of baseball when another boy grabs him and puts a blade to his neck. ¿`Should I slice the Honky?¿ Sean asked¿Much to my amazement, I was not particularly scared¿ (Conley 107). There is more to this passage than a story the fact that Conley is not terrified (he is even a bit accepting) of a black boy holding a knife to his throat says something about the general view of race: that a black boy threatening a white boy in the projects is expected. Conley uses subtlety to address his issues around race, and an average reader may not pick up on what Conley¿s feelings say about these issues. Instead of writing a narrative essay on race or class, though, Conley threads these few scenes into a larger story of growing up in a harsh world. The result is good: a book not too heavily loaded with sensational material but full of relatively unbiased and thought-provoking ideas.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 10, 2003

    A look at how "Whiteness" is seen by others

    Having spend part of my life in an almost all black school in Philadelphia, I can tell you the author hit the nail on the head about the class we in the states call White. To those who read this looking for a scholar¿s work you will find just a great first hand account of what the non white world see us as. Worth the time if you care about see it from the other side.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 27, 2000

    Can a sociological memoir work? Dalton Conley's Honky proves that it can!

    It is difficult to write a sociological text that is literary, or write a memoir that is sociological at its core. However, I am very happy to say that Daniel Conley's 'Honky' is able to break these boundaries and divulge through the sociological eye, a very personal tale of race and class, and the notion of white privilege in America. Race and class are two ideas and issues that are difficult to discuss in a forum. They are pervasive and impact the way in which our lives are played out on a daily basis. Anyone who disagrees that these are not so can clearly look to Dalton's memoir to see that race and class do have an impact on our society. In a matter-of-fact-tone that is graphic, immediate and intense, Conley shows sociologically, through social patterns, class-conscious mores, and interpersonal actions and reactions to environments, the ways we reify status, class consciousness and socioeconomic theories from the minutest of instances. When analyzed, Conley's prose and details paint a picture of sociological urban theory in a way that is not condescending, rather very accessible. It should definitely be used as a college text in any Urban Sociology or Race/Class theory sociology course. Through Conley's experiences, he is able to construct and reveal sociological theories that involve race and class in such unassuming and pictoral ways. Despite all this, there are many questions I had of the family and its interaction with themselves and their neighbors in the book. Also, the direct story-telling of 'this is how it was' is great throughout the book, but, personally, I would have like to have seen more literary device used and the use of dialogue and setting to garner the same effect that is achieved by the book's end. Since Conley is a sociologist, it doesn't surprise me that there aren't a lot of metaphors, or use of dialogue or physical interaction to see beyond what the author sees or wants us to see. This may be deliberate, but it may leave a reader looking for a transposed literary experience slightly jilted. The mere fact that there needs to be an explanation for the use of the memoir as a means to get the point across shows that there had to have been some compromise with academic and creative writing. Nevertheless, Conley's book is successful in meeting the academia through literary means. As someone who has seen and had somewhat parallel experiences, there is great honesty with what Dalton Conley presents, and that in itself is worth the book. In my eyes, it is a sociological text told through a memoir. And it is a a very revelatory and personal at that. Don't miss out on this book because it really does reveal that in America there are successes and sorrows. But, because of your physiognomy, lady luck can be manipulated.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 15, 2008

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 25, 2008

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 10, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 27, 2009

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