Larceny in My Blood: A Memoir of Heroin, Handcuffs, and Higher Educationby Matthew J. Parker
Matthew Parker was in his mid-forties when he started college. He’d been sidetracked: Eleven years were eaten up by serving time in various county jails, state penitentiaries, and federal prison. He’d/b>
A fully illustrated graphic memoir of a child of the '60s who was raised into a life of crime and addiction —but graduated into freedom.
Matthew Parker was in his mid-forties when he started college. He’d been sidetracked: Eleven years were eaten up by serving time in various county jails, state penitentiaries, and federal prison. He’d been arrested more than thirty times, racking up eight felonies in a crime career that began at age thirteen, when he started dealing pot. When he got out of prison for the last time and kicked his heroin addiction, he was determined to spend the next chapter of his life in the classroom. And he did just that, going on to complete a master’s degree from Columbia University’s highly competitive creative writing program.
A lifelong addict and petty criminal, Parker had been arrested more than 30 times before he started college in his mid-40s. He had some artistic abilityshown more here in his portraits of rock stars than his rough-hewn comicsand a lifelong love of reading and writing, despite a dysfunctional family in which he followed his mother down the path toward drugs and crime and most of his siblings ended up in jail or on the streets. His matter-of-fact tone has an honesty and dark humor to it, but the storytelling is so offhanded and chronologically disjointed that readers will sense that Parker is both smarter and a better writer than what he shows here. Particularly compelling are the parallels he draws between the penal system, academe and addiction. There is no typically redemptive arc to the story, as the author keeps circling back to addiction and prison. Even after he went straight and found praise for his writing at Columbia, he admits that his financial problems (exacerbated by his criminal record) left him with little remorse about cheating the system. "I still have larceny in my blood and am not afraid to use it should the need arise," he writes, telling a fellow student, "I came here to write, not to teach or work like a dog in some damn restaurant for minimum wage."
Parker follows a professor's advice to "write it the same way you would tell it"but his approach to the narrative, hopscotching from here to there and back again, isn't nearly as powerful as the story he has to tell.
- Penguin Publishing Group
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- Age Range:
- 18 Years
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—Annie Choi, author of Happy Birthday or Whatever
Meet the Author
Matthew Parker recently earned an MFA in creative writing from Columbia University and has been drug- and crime-free since 2002. Born in Bridgeport, Connecticut, he now lives in New York City.
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Honest, and from the heart. Not many with similar life circumstances live long enough to tell their story, let alone have the courage to keep moving forward on their journey. A remarkable man still seeking his future, despite his past. I learn something new each time I read it, and hope others will share what I have found in Parker's work: that the journey is different for each, and sometimes requires us to 'hopscotch' back again, and again, until we can truly figure it all out. Bravo! Matthew Parker for finding meaning in your circumstantial life collisions. Waiting for you to give us MORE of your insight....