Man Up: Cracking the Code of Modern Manhood

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Inspired by the award-winning poet and actor’s acclaimed one-man play, a powerful coming-of-age memoir that reimagines masculinity for the twenty-first-century male.

Award-winning poet, actor, and writer Carlos Andrés Gómez is a supremely gifted storyteller with a captivating voice whose power resonates equally on the live stage and on the page. In one of his most moving spoken-word poems, Gómez recounts a confrontation he once had after accidentally bumping into another man at ...

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Man Up: Reimagining Modern Manhood

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Overview

Inspired by the award-winning poet and actor’s acclaimed one-man play, a powerful coming-of-age memoir that reimagines masculinity for the twenty-first-century male.

Award-winning poet, actor, and writer Carlos Andrés Gómez is a supremely gifted storyteller with a captivating voice whose power resonates equally on the live stage and on the page. In one of his most moving spoken-word poems, Gómez recounts a confrontation he once had after accidentally bumping into another man at a club. Just as they were about to fight, Gómez experienced an unexplainable surge of emotion that made his eyes well up with tears. Everyone at the scene jumped back, as if crying, or showing vulnerability, was the most insane thing that Gómez could possibly have done.

Like many men in our society, Gómez grew up believing that he had to be ready to fight at all times, treat women as objects, and close off his emotional self. It wasn’t until he discovered acting that he began to see the true cost of squelching one’s emotions—and how aggression dominates everything that young males are taught.

Statistics on graduation rates, employment, and teen and young-adult suicide make it clear that the young males in our society are at a crisis point, but Gómez seeks to reverse these ominous trends by sharing the lessons that he has learned. Like Hill Harper’s Letters to a Young Brother, Man Up will be an agent for positive change, galvanizing men—but also mothers, girlfriends, wives, and sisters—to rethink and reimagine the way all men interact with women, deal with violence, handle fear, and express emotion.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

"Think Keats meets Bob Marley meet Tupac" is how one reviewer described Carlos Andres Gómez's one-man play based on his life. Now the award-winning poet and actor brings his coming-of-age story to a wider audience. Though his experiences are in some ways unique (he grew up in twelve cities and four countries), Gómez's account of breaking inherited stereotypes of masculinity has implications far beyond those of a conventional personal memoir. His Man Up grapples with the crises that young men today are facing, human problems that pop up on statistics about graduation rates, unemployment, and teen and young adult suicide. A powerful wake-up call from someone who has been there.

Publishers Weekly
In this self-help memoir, poet and performer Gomez uses his experiences as a springboard for grappling with the plight of contemporary masculinity. The child of a Colombian-born diplomat father and an American professor, Gomez shifted to one country after another, unsure about his identity and where he belonged. Even after his family settled in the U.S., Gomez frequently transferred between schools, and his parents’ divorce left him with even deeper questions about his place in the world. Over time, Gomez embraced his mixed cultural background and discovered that his uneasiness over his heritage could be transformed into a source of strength. Each chapter of the book opens with poetry or some kind of dramatized scene. Early chapters unfold in linear fashion, but as the book progresses the organization becomes more thematic—sex, heroism, love, death. A former social worker in the Bronx, Gomez identifies as Latino, and although he went to prep school and the Ivy League, his greatest empathy is for the oppressed. This dedication is admirable, but Gomez’s advice rarely rises above the self-evident: use condoms, treat women with respect, see other people as human beings. (Oct.)
Library Journal
"I will not rest until one dream is made real: that we might redefine what it is to be a man." Sound too dreamy? In fact, Gómez, New York's Slam King in 2006 and a two-time International Poetry Slam Champion, as well as an actor and a former social worker, is an energized example of street-smart credibility. We've heard the news that men should feel free to show such emotion, but Gómez delivers it for the 21st century.
Kirkus Reviews
A young Latino man recounts his coming-of-age amid the usual foibles inherent in growing up. In his debut memoir, writer/actor Gómez brings his one-man show to the page, exploring issues of fear, forgiveness, sexuality and what it means to be a man. A self-described "middle-class, racist, light-skinned Latino," the author often employs race as a lens through which to view his world. After an early childhood spent overseas, Gómez returned to a race-conscious America and became increasingly aware of issues regarding race. "During basketball games, at first I would be treated like everyone else, but when the referee heard someone call me Carlos, he would make tighter calls on me," he writes. Gómez's complaints are hardly limited to the basketball court, but soon included the failures of various schools, none of which seemed to give Gómez the support he required. The book becomes far more engaging when the author considers his own role in his life's choices, reflecting on the hard questions. He concludes that while he was occasionally a victim of the world's biases, oftentimes he played the part of the perpetrator as well, particularly in regard to his relationships with women. Gómez's straight-talk approach to his philandering (as well as his obvious regret) becomes the highlight of the book, a strand of narrative that seems to absolve him of past trespasses. A greater trespass, however, is Gómez's seemingly conscious choice to awkwardly assemble his life story to fit a storyline--a trick he often employed to impress women. "I am a pimp," Gómez admits, speaking of his past relationships, "one who conveniently coopted this narrative throughout his life, on frequent occasion, and exploited the act of honesty to get what he wanted." His mea culpa, while appreciated, does little to excuse the memoir its more indulgent and didactic moments. A confidently told but not wholly inspiring memoir.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781592407781
  • Publisher: Gotham
  • Publication date: 9/27/2012
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Carlos Andrés Gómez is an award-winning poet, actor, and writer. A former social worker in Harlem and the south Bronx and a former public school teacher in Philadelphia and Manhattan, Gomez has performed at over 200 colleges and universities and has toured across North America, Europe, the Caribbean, and Africa. Nominated for the Pushcart Prize and named Artist of the Year at the 2009 Promoting Outstanding Writers Awards, he is a two-time International Poetry Slam Champion and two-time National Poetry Slam Finalist. He appeared on HBO’s “Russell Simmons Def Poetry Jam” and co-starred in Spike Lee’s film Inside Man alongside Denzel Washington, Jodie Foster, and Clive Owen.

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Table of Contents

Author's Note xi

Introduction 1

Part I Little Carlitos

Chapter 1 "Where Are You From?" Poem: "All We Have" 17

Chapter 2 Fear: Beneath the Façade Poem: "Black Boy" 39

Chapter 3 Guys' Club: No Faggots, Bitches, or Pussies Allowed Poem: "3 AM" (cowritten with Adam Falkner) 65

Part II On the Precipice

Chapter 4 Sex: Fucking, Making Love, and Fucking Up Excerpt from solo play Man Up Monologue: "I Wanna Fuck More vs. the Health Care Worker" 89

Chapter 5 Heroes and Villains Excerpt from solo play Man Up Monologue: "Julio" 127

Chapter 6 Going to War Poem: "Honest/Clean" 153

Chapter 7 Weakness: The Death of Superman Poem: "Saying Goodnight" 177

Part III Man Enough

Chapter 8 Finding My Voice in a Poem Poem: "What's Genocide?" 201

Chapter 9 A Knight in Tarnished Armor Poem: "Wait" (cowritten with Jeanann Verlee) 213

Chapter 10 Love Poem: "Hallelujah" 233

Chapter 11 Forgiveness: When There's Nothing Left Excerpt from solo play Man Up Monologue: "Rottweiler" 249

Epilogue Excerpt from solo play Man Up Monologue: "I have been, I am, I want to be" 277

Acknowledgments 281

Do Something 285

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 4, 2012

    Five Stars for a Raw and Hopeful Journey

    This book is not meant to have all of the answers and it doesn't need to. What it does is tell one man's journey of grappling with the confines of masculinity. With a candidness and vulnerability, Gómez takes us through his ups and downs, his victories and his mistakes. This is a real journey -- one that isn't claiming to be pretty or simple but raw and complex. Not being the best version of oneself is something we can all relate to and Gómez offers up his story and missteps for us to examine and even critique. Demonstrating along the way how he challenged and also conformed to what he thought a man was supposed to be.

    What does it mean to be a man? Or woman? Or anyone in between? What are the confines of gender that we have been raised to believe are necessary? What Gómez offers is not just a new way of looking at what it means to be a man, but ultimately permission for every one of us to get free.

    Five stars for this brave, new voice.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 22, 2013

    As the mother of a little boy who is both Native American and Ca

    As the mother of a little boy who is both Native American and Caucasian, Man Up appealed to me not only because of its title but also the racial issues discussed in the book. I hoped to glean some understanding of the difficulties my son may face as a young man with two cultural identities. As I was immersed in the life of author Carlos Andrés Gómez, I was drawn in by the his strait forward, vulnerable honesty. A combination of male linguistics, poetry, and sensitive revelation, Man Up beautifully and compassionately exposes the pitfalls of socially enforced male machismo. Questioning the roles men are forced to believe they must embody and facing the issue of race head on, Man Up became a vehicle for my own growth as a mother and women. The authors experiences growing up also provided indispensable knowledge and lessons I can employ in raising my own intensely sensitive and loving little boy. A truly touching and brave memoir.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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