Thursday, May 6, 2010

Review: The Flesh Statue by U.L. Harper

The Flesh StatueTitle: The Flesh Statue

Author: U.L. Harper

Pages: 354

Source: Author for review

Rating: 6/10

Challenges: Read 'n' Review Challenge

First Sentence: "The trumpeter stood in front of the drummer who aggressively smashed his snare and toms and smiled while staring at the bassist."

Summary (From back of book):

Tired of watching his ailing grandfather wither away from Alzheimer's, 19-year-old Langley Jackson moves from his middle class home and subsequently struggles to survive in downtown Long Beach. Here he finds himself part of a social movement bent on destruction and retribution. Through all of this, Langley must decide on trying to subsist in a complicated and unlawful new world of graffiti and poetry or endure in a disheartening old one outlined by the death of his mother and his sick grandfather.

My Two Cents:

This book is an example of some great ideas, but an execution that needed an editor.

The main concept -- A youth who feels out-of-touch with his middle-class roots goes to live in a lower-class city and becomes part of a movement hoping to enact change -- is a great one. The first problem, though, is that we never actually learn why Langley doesn't like living with his grandparents in their neighborhood. Is it because of something that happened to him, or is he just an angry teen? We never really know why.

When he goes to live by himself (on his grandparents' money, mind you) in Long Beach, Langley gets in with a crowd of spoken-word poets who have their own issues. One is pursued by an abusive stepfather. Another can never seem to make financial ends meet. They have reasons for their anger and disillusionment, and it's pretty clear why they act the way they do. But it's never really totally clear with Langley, at least not that I was able to tell.

There are too many things going on in this book for them all to be developed fully. I think if a few of the side plots could have been cut out some, the book would have felt a little more cohesive. As it is, it often felt like a bunch of problems strung together.

The writing also could have used a little assistance. It wasn't terrible, but there were points where it was just laborious to read. Perhaps it was too much "telling" and not enough "showing." I'm not really sure, but it was just hard to read at times.

The really shining moments in this book, though, are the spoken-word poems. It's obvious the author has experience writing or hearing spoken-word poems, and the ones in here are, on the whole, really good. As I was reading them, I could almost hear how they would be presented. The poems definitely were my favorite part about this book.


Anonymous said...

I really like your review on this book and the way it is set out with particulars, blurb, first sentence, your two cents - makes for easy reading.

Looking forward to digging deeper through your blog :)

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