A multi-point-of-view work of realistic and often graphic literary fiction, The Concrete is a striking debut that grapples with the effects of childhood trauma on teens, lost dreams, human sexuality, and the difficulties of marriage.
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.10(d)|
About the Author
What People are Saying About This
“Every few years, if we’re lucky, there comes along that rare novel that feels dictated from the very pulse of the times in which we live, the one that pulls us in and won’t let go, and when we’re finished, we feel the urgent need to spread the news about it far and wide and right away. Daniel Abbot’s The Concrete is that novel. Written in a street-wise yet deeply compassionate voice, this mesmerizing narrative takes us into the lives of men, women, and children who are trying to survive any way they can, fighting the demons of addiction and violence along the way, taking part in the “flesh game”, trying to love and be loved and do the right thing, even when they sometimes don’t. This is a heartbreakingly beautiful novel, an honest work of art, and it heralds the debut of a remarkable and important young American novelist.” – Andre Dubus III, author of House of Sand and Fog
"Searingly precise prose of the first order, characters who live so passionately they nearly walk off the page, and a depth of insight about pain and love that at times I had to put the book down. But never for long."– Anthony Swofford, author of Jarhead
"The Concrete, Daniel Abbott's searing debut novel, marks the introduction of a fresh, exciting, and important voice to the American literary landscape. Filled with uncommon insights into the human heart, this gritty, brave, redemptive novel tells truths we all need to hear."– Connie May Fowler, author of Before Women Had Wings
Please write a few paragraphs on how you came to write this book, including any interesting experiences researching it.
The year before I started writing THE CONCRETE, the mother of six of my children moved to the southeast side of Grand Rapids. That same year two people I know personally were shot (both survived) on the southeast side. The following year a teenager ran down the street firing a pistol while my son Simeon was playing in the front yard of his mother’s house. I make that drive through the southeast at least twice a week, picking up or dropping off my children, thieves eyes on me, looking for opportunity. I hate it there. I hate that my children spend half of their time there. In the early drafts of THE CONCRETE the southeast side served as a backdrop, or a mural for the story. It has evolved into a character, a villain, and I think in many ways the most dangerous kind of villain, a villain with no face, an oppressor, an enemy the characters in this novel have to overcome but cannot see.
What I found most interesting in the drafting process was how the novel evolved. It began with an image of my friend being murdered, focused around that scene. As a first-time novelist, I didn’t really know what to expect. I can certainly say that I was not planning on writing a novel written from eleven different point of views! But the more I dug into that first draft, the more questions I asked about the history of my characters, and my writerly instincts urged me to delve deeper into their pasts. I didn’t think incorporating a backstory into a live-time narrative would be as rich as actually telling each story, but I also didn’t want to write a 1,000-page book. I didn’t want to write INFINITE JESTthere’s only one David Foster Wallace.
Ultimately, I chose a fragmented style to neutralize the two extremes, which I think was the right choice. I was able to tell the “whole story” without writing a 1,000-page book.
Please tell us a personal story or inspiration relating to this book.
I was a divorced father of six, a former moderately-successful underground hip-hop artist, former junior college basketball player, former social work major, former sociology major, former United States Marine, former resident of the Camp Pendleton Base Briggiven a Bad Conduct discharge after methodical and formal insubordination, after finding out the week of boot camp graduation that the recruiter had lied to me and I had turned down a basketball scholarship at Ferris State University to play for an All-Marines basketball team that didn’t actually exist.
I spent my early-twenties sabotaging my life. I spent my late-twenties standing in the wreckage and blaming the world. In my early-thirties I discovered a love for writing and literature and began the journey you find me on now.
In 2010, six months after being downsized from my job, my six children and I moved into my best friend’s basement. I remember one night I was pacing, my sons Kevin and Simeon were sleeping on the couch, my daughters, Keyaira, Van, Andi, and Lauren were sleeping on a king-sized mattress that sat atop a box spring with no frame. I’ll never forget how I felt in that moment; coming to the realization that my life was my fault, accepting the blame and that to undo the damage would take some time. I faced hopelessness, depressionmy failures heightened by my impoverished circumstances. I began blogging rants in the nature of spoken word poetry, with no real structure or form, but they were well-received. It was therapeutic to vent and be understood, but I felt called to do more. To write more than a few pages of chaotic reflections. I needed more space. It was then I discovered the Creative Writing program at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, MI and I began the journey you find me on now.