Down These Mean Streets Author:Piri Thomas Thirty years ago Piri Thomas made literary history with this lacerating, lyrical memoir of his coming of age on the streets of Spanish Harlem. Here was the testament of a born outsider: a Puerto Rican in English-speaking America; a dark-skinned morenito in a family that refused to acknowledge its African blood. Here was an unsparing document of ... more »Thomas's plunge into the deadly consolations of drugs, street fighting, and armed robbery -- a descent that ended when the twenty-two-year-old Piri was sent to prison for shooting a cop.
As he recounts the journey that took him from adolescence in El Barrio to a lock-up in Sing Sing to the freedom that comes of self-acceptance, faith, and inner confidence, Piri Thomas gives us a book that is as exultant as it is harrowing and whose every page bears the irrepressible rhythm of its author's voice. Thirty years after its first appearance, this classic of manhood, marginalization, survival, and transcendence is available in an anniversary edition with a new Introduction by the author.« less
I had to read this book for a university class, and I couldn't put it down. That is a rare thing. ;)
From the back cover: In this classic confessional autobiography--first published in 1967 and firmly in the tradition of Eldridge Cleaver's _Soul on Ice_ and _The Autobiography of Malcolm X_--Piri Thomas, a man of African and Puerto Rican descent living in Spanish Harlem, powerfully relates how he was lost even within his own family and sought his identity through drugs, street fighting, and armed robbery, nearly becoming yet another statistic by the age of twenty-two. His downward spiral from the barrio to Sing Sing is keenly and wisely described, as is his redemption, one found through suffering, endurance, and desire for understanding.