Buffalo Nickel

( 5 )

Overview

This is a unique autobiography by renowned novelist-boxer Floyd Salas which charts his dramatic coming of age in the conflicting shadows of two older brothers: one a drug addict and petty criminal, the other an intellectual prodigy. Through intense, passionate prose, Salas takes us through pimp bars, boxing rings and jails in his youthful search for his own true identity amidst the tragedies that envelope his family. Buffalo Nickel is non-fiction that reads like a well-crafted novel in its recording of the ...
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Overview

This is a unique autobiography by renowned novelist-boxer Floyd Salas which charts his dramatic coming of age in the conflicting shadows of two older brothers: one a drug addict and petty criminal, the other an intellectual prodigy. Through intense, passionate prose, Salas takes us through pimp bars, boxing rings and jails in his youthful search for his own true identity amidst the tragedies that envelope his family. Buffalo Nickel is non-fiction that reads like a well-crafted novel in its recording of the excessive cost in personal, human terms of drug addiction to a whole family. Salas is the author of three novels hailed as "stirring", "stunning" and "vivid and authentic" by The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Salas's fiercely eloquent account of growing up in a family roiled by drug addiction, crime and suicide is a scorching read. He idolized his older brother Al, a professional boxer who popped in and out of reform schools and prisons for pimping, selling bootlegged liquor and petty theft. Their oldest brother, Eddie, a Harvard-educated pharmacist, committed suicide, tormented by his bisexuality and angry at the father who had rejected him. Moving from a Colorado mining town to Denver to a California boomtown and finally to Oakland, Calif., during the Depression, Salas eked out a living selling crucifixes door to door to support his pregnant teenage girlfriend, whom he married. Al, a junkie, pushed him into the ring and tried to lead him into crime as well, but Salas ultimately spurned the brother who let him down, and went on to become a successful novelist. This pounding novelistic autobiography, punctuated by the suicides of several relatives and friends, climaxes with a boxing match between the two brothers, in which they figuratively spill their guts. (Aug.)
Library Journal
In his novels, Salas ( Tatoo the Wicked Cross , LJ 9/1/67) has written of the gritty and desperate world of young people in California. In this memoir, he re-creates his family life almost as a Manichean dialectic between his two brothers, Eddy and Al. Eddy is highly intelligent and hardworking. He studies at Harvard and owns a pharmacy. Al worms his way out of the army to become a professional boxer, ending up as a junkie willing to betray members of his own family for a fix. They both try to influence Floyd, who, as of course we already know, becomes a celebrated novelist. Salas's writing is so heartfelt and powerful that the memoir, as much about Al as about Floyd himself, succeeds in creating the suspense associated with fiction. His descriptions of amateur boxing matches and police surveillance of suspected drug users are especially wonderful, and the pathos of watching his own nieces and nephews die one by one is particuarly wrenching. Recommended for public libraries, particularly those serving Hispanic patrons.-- Harold Augenbraum, Mercantile Lib., New York
Kirkus Reviews
Piercing and eloquent coming-of-age story from novelist- boxer Salas. Salas had two big brothers he adored. When he was 11, his mother died, leaving him primarily in the care of his brother Al, his father (who was often away in a bar), and his brother Eddy, who was at college. Al was a Golden Gloves champion and taught Salas how to box, and they became even closer when Eddy committed suicide. Al, who had shown a disinclination for work ever since he faked insanity for an Army discharge, began attempting to involve Salas in petty crime. Salas, torn between his idolized brother and his desire to do right, trained hard in the ring (here penning some the best boxing scenes since Leonard Gardner's Fat City, 1969) and studied hard. As he grew, his role and Al's slowly reversed: Al became deeply involved in buncos, theft, and heroin, and Salas attempted to steer him to a healthy way of life. Salas's photographic re-creation of the 1950's seedy Oakland bars, lowlifes, and vice squads from which he tried to rescue Al could make a book in itself. Eventually, Salas won a boxing scholarship to college, worked at night to support his family, and published a novel to great acclaim (Tatoo the Wicked Cross, 1967). Meanwhile, brother Al grew older and was unchanged, shooting junk, doing penitentiary stints, and, in order to collect welfare cash, having nine children—all of whom became addicts and alcoholics, four of them committing suicide. Salas took several of Al's children under his own wing but in vain. The greatest part—and the heart—of Salas's story are his childhood memories, which are comparable to Neal Cassady's The First Third (1971) but rendered with a far more deftsensitivity and poignancy. Beautifully written, gritty, and deeply human; maybe Salas will return to regular publishing with the debut of this outstanding memoir.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781558850491
  • Publisher: Arte Publico Press
  • Publication date: 1/28/1992
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 347
  • Sales rank: 893,433
  • Product dimensions: 5.73 (w) x 8.81 (h) x 1.24 (d)

Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 12, 2006

    KIPPster's Book Review

    The book Buffalo Nickel was a pretty good book for me. It was about a kid, his life, and some boxing. There was a lot of boxing going on in the book. The boy named Floyd pretty much grew up around boxing his whole life. He wanted to be a boxer just like his brother as well. I pretty much liked the book over all. It had things that you could look forward to reading about, such as some of the boxing matches that were going on in the book. The book had a lot of action in it. There was also some emotion in the book as well. There was emotion when Floyd¿s brother went to jail. This book had everything to look for in a book. The length of the book was not too long and was not too short. The book was not too hard and it was not too easy. It was a good book to read. You should read this book yourself.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 12, 2006

    Buffalo Nickel

    Buffalo Nickel is a unique autobiography, by novelist/boxer Floyd Salas that follows his dramatic coming of age in the conflict between two older brothers: one a intellectual prodigy another a drug addict and a petty criminal. Through very detailed scenarios, Floyd takes us through pimp bars, boxing rings, and jails in his search for his own identity trough the tragedies that surround his family. Buffalo Nickel is a non-fiction book that reads like a very well written novel of the tremendous cost in terms of drug addiction to a whole family. Throughout the entire book Salas struggles to maintain his life, eventually getting his teen girlfriend pregnant. This brings his life to a screeching halt so was the case of Floyd Salas. He has to find a job to support his baby. If you learn nothing from this book, remember that life is not easy.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 12, 2006

    Buffalo Nickel

    Buffalo Nickel is a unique autobiography, by novelist/boxer Floyd Salas that follows his dramatic coming of age in the conflict between two older brothers: one a intellectual prodigy another a drug addict and a petty criminal. Through very detailed scenarios, Floyd takes us through pimp bars, boxing rings, and jails in his search for his own identity trough the tragedies that surround his family. Buffalo Nickel is a non-fiction book that reads like a very well written novel of the tremendous cost in terms of drug addiction to a whole family. Throughout the entire book Salas struggles to maintain his life, eventually getting his teen girlfriend pregnant. This brings his life to a screeching halt so was the case of Floyd Salas. He has to find a job to support his baby. If you learn nothing from this book, remember that life is not easy and that things will occur when the time is ripe.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 12, 2006

    Buffalo Nickel

    Buffalo Nickel was a book that was actually enjoyable to read.It had all the good characteristics a good book should have,suspense,plot,rising action troughout the whole book,entertainment,kind of like a movie.We all know we like to watch movies.The book starts of talking bout himslef and how his life was as a child.It had many situations in wich many other kids cant say they were in.Like for example when he saw his big bro being held in a (jail school) because of the fact that he had made many mistakes that were unaverage for a child his age to do.Then it moved on to a more personall note talking about his brother and the rest of his familey.The main thing that caught my attention was the boxing life, which his familey was really into.At the end of the book Floyd had a boxing match with his big bro which was the best and most suspenfull part of the book.He and his big bro duked it out for a couple of rounds and they were basiaclly letting out some of the anger they had towards each other because of the things they had done to each other in the past.The book was so detailed and thats one of the things that made the book great.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 21, 2006

    a moving book

    I really enjoyed reading this excellent novel by Floyed Salas. The whole story was interesting, moving and powerful. I love reading back into it, it's truly a wonderful book. I reccomend it to anyone.

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