City Kid: A Writer's Memoir of Ghetto Life and Post-Soul Success


Writing with emotion, but without false sentiment, George creates an insightful and inspirational portrait of an emerging success.

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City Kid: A Writer's Memoir of Ghetto Life and Post-Soul Success

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Writing with emotion, but without false sentiment, George creates an insightful and inspirational portrait of an emerging success.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Stories of [George's] boyhood moments are funny and downright arresting: his spiritual alignment with Captain America or the pluses and pitfalls of embracing the symbolism of the 1968 message movie 'Planet of the Apes'. You can see the seeds of a media critic being planted, and its fun to watch."
-Los Angeles Times

"In a direct and passionate writing style, George recounts what it was like to be young, black, poor-and driven...City Kid puts the reader at the pulsating fault line of the seismic shakeup of black movies and music in the 1980s and 1990s."

"Swift and authoritative."
-The Onion

"Charming memoir...a front-row seat to New York's shifting dynamics."
-Time Out New York

Publishers Weekly

In his vivid and charming memoir, novelist and screenwriter George (Hip Hop America ) recounts incidents from an eventful life that has ranged from a tough upbringing by his single mother in Brooklyn in the 1960s to a career of assorted writing gigs in music journalism, television and film. Early in the book, George captures the anxieties of an intelligent child in a dangerous neighborhood, finding solace in his mother's soul records, screenings of Planet of the Apes and Hemingway and Fitzgerald novels. Later, George provides a welcome and appropriately nerve-wracking portrait of a young New York writer, interning at the Amsterdam News and writing concert reviews for Billboard . Slowly, the mature writer and tastemaker emerges, witnessing and shepherding hip-hop's sometimes rocky transition into the mainstream pop-music world, as exemplified by a bizarre concert bill featuring the Commodores, Bob Marley and hip-hop pioneer Kurtis Blow. George's life has been blessed by the presences of an eclectic array of black entertainers, including a young Russell Simmons and a struggling Chris Rock, and he sketches these characters with affection, though at times the book feels more like a collection of anecdotes than a cohesive narrative. Nonetheless, George provides tempting glimpses of the vibrant New York of the recent past. (Apr.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Kirkus Reviews
George (The Accidental Hunter, 2005, etc.) chronicles his progression from an impoverished childhood to an accomplished career as a music journalist, novelist and filmmaker, with many stops along the way. The author was born into a working-class black family in swiftly changing Brooklyn. It was 1957: White families were moving out to the suburbs; African-American and Puerto Rican families were moving in. George's father was absent for much of his youth, and his hardworking mother served as his principal role model. The memoir serves up many images already shopworn from other coming-of-age stories set in New York during the '60s and '70s: stickball in the street, dancing to soul records, trading comic books, etc. George's recollections often seem romanticized, with one notable exception. His colorful descriptions of pop, soul and jazz, the experience of listening to music and his reactions to it, always seem authentic, and they point a clear path to his career as a journalist. He developed his craft at Billboard, New York Amsterdam News and The Village Voice (his dream job). As the author chronicles his professional success, the book's focus shifts to his relationships with an impressive, if lengthy, list of major black artists, including Russell Simmons, Spike Lee and Chris Rock, each of whom gets his own chapter. While these accounts provide a unique perspective on the development of African-American culture, they also fragment the text into choppy, piecemeal sections that abandon the subject of George's family life. He attempts to bring things full circle with concluding chapters on Life Support, a film he directed about his sister's battle with HIV, and a brief account of a familyreunion at his niece's graduation. Uneven but frequently engrossing.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780452296046
  • Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 3/30/2010
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 7.70 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Nelson George

Nelson George is an award-winning author of both fiction and nonfiction. He has written for Playboy, Billboard, Esquire, the Village Voice, Essence, and many other national magazines, as well as writing and producing television programs and feature films.

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Table of Contents

Introduction xiii

How I Came to Be 1

High Fidelity 11

The Ville 20

My Hero 30

A Thin Line between Love and Hate 36

Peer Pressure 41

A Theater on Pitkin Avenue 45

Soul Songs 51

Hanging with Captain America 56

BK '69 65

Afrodisiacs 67

Joining the Literary Guild 71

BK Early Seventies 81

Tilden Topics 97

NYC Late Seventies 104

The White Lines That Bind 131

NYC Early Eighties 137

Kings from Queens 148

Black Hollywood 159

From Motorola to Motown 165

Fort Greene Dreams 176

Talking Head 188

Voices Inside My Head 194

East New York 203

Spike 209

Jokes and Smoke 218

Life Support 232

Family Reunion 245

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