Picture of author.
7+ Works 240 Members 4 Reviews

Om forfatteren

D. Watkins is an editor at large for Salon. He is also a professor at the University of Baltimore and founder of the Baltimore Writers Project. His work has appeared in the New York Times, the Guardian, Rolling Stone, and other publications. Watkins is the author of the New York Times bestsellers vis mere The Cook Up: A Crack Rock Memoir and The Beast Side: Living and Dying While Black in America. He lives in East Baltimore. vis mindre

Værker af D. Watkins

Associated Works

A Beautiful Ghetto (2017) — Bidragyder — 62 eksemplarer

Satte nøgleord på

Almen Viden

Andre navne
Watkins, Dwight
Baltimore, Maryland, USA
Johns Hopkins University (M. Ed.)
University of Baltimore (MFA)
editor-at-large for Salon
Baltimore Writers Project
University of Baltimore
Barbara Poelle
Kort biografi
D. Watkins, of East Baltimore, is a bestselling author, HBO writer and professor at The University of Baltimore, as well as an editor-at-large for Salon.



This novel was intriguing, but not my style.

I found this book hard to read, despite the book being well written. The way the author writes the dialogue in this novel has the words written as how they would sound - any accents are written in, which makes some of the lines incredibly hard to read. This dialogue put me off of the book, and made it super hard for me to read.

The plot itself is very moving - someone on a good path straying faraway. It beautifully displays a realistic struggle, which makes this book very moving. It's authentic and an overall great book - so I definitely suggest it to those who are interested in realistic dramas.

Overall, this book was not a book written to my standards, but it is still an incredible book. I would definitely suggest others read it, I just wouldn't read it again.

Two out of five stars due to the difficulty of reading the dialogue. Still an amazing novel though!

I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.
… (mere)
Briars_Reviews | 1 anden anmeldelse | Aug 4, 2023 |
Fascinating memoir from a former drug dealer in Baltimore. Watkins really doesn't hold back as he lays out the specifics of how and why drug dealers operate. It's an eye opener. It's also heartbreaking as it becomes clear that the intelligence required to create a successful drug dealing operation could readily be deployed in some more traditional pursuits, but the money, and almost as importantly the "prestige" is seductive. I love memoirs that give insight into something you know little or nothing about, and this book does that in a gritty, no holds barred voice.… (mere)
Anita_Pomerantz | 1 anden anmeldelse | Mar 23, 2023 |
Black Boy Smile, D. Watkins
This is a really hard book to read. Every page is heartbreaking. Written in short, anecdotal memories, from 1989, when the author was 9 years old, until the first birthday of his daughter, Cross, in 2021, the author rolls out his life and his experiences in cold, clear terms, and most importantly, honest and brutal terms. He does not mince words about his past, and he has never been punished for his crimes. He was, after all, a bully, a drug dealer who negatively affected the lives of others, a thug who organized and participated in violent fights, and a dropout from school. Although he reformed himself, he never paid any price to society or to those he harmed.
Miraculously to me, although he was bullied, beaten and abused, he was somehow able to overcome the negative effects of the neighborhood, East Baltimore, that shaped him into the mold of an arrogant bully and a hard-core criminal, to reshape himself into another, that of a respectable citizen, husband, father and successful author. He does not explain how he was able to get into the excellent schools of higher learning, nor how he was able to get into programs others desperately tried to and failed. Did he have the advantages provided to him by this white society that is so demeaned, to enable him to accomplish his goals after so sordid a past? Regardless of how it happened, his monumental reversal of a criminal life into an honorable, productive, and loving life that provides a positive example to those with whom he interacts is truly marvelous. Perhaps, if he had been forced to do prison time for his past life, he would only have learned to be a better criminal. Who knows the answer to that question? He rehabilitated himself quite well, and after all, was that not the original ultimate goal of prison and punishment.
His view of reality and mine will never be the same. We will never walk in the same shoes. Our backgrounds, though both born without a silver spoon, were completely different. I was not forced to take on the persona of a tough, or to do immoral and unethical things to survive, but I made choices that did not include criminality, and nothing could have made me choose that direction. He bemoans the fact that, someday, his daughter will not be paid as much for her work, as white men, but what about white women? Are any women paid fairly? Does it have anything to do with qualifications, education, loyalty, responsibility? He bemoans the way summer camp shaped and abused him, but he doesn’t mention doing anything to actually reform those camps, nor does he explain why his mother thought it would be so great an experience, or why she lied to him about his cousins going, only to find out that he was alone and in the older boy’s bunk with nobody to protect him.
Still, reading about how he was introduced to sex, at 9 years old, by a monstrous, amoral camp counselor and a ridiculously inappropriate female, was shocking for me to read. It is a wonder that he came out of his experiences wanting a normal life, let alone being able to cope with one. How could no one even know about such atrocities happening in a place that was supposed to be child friendly, a place that was supposed to enrich him, to enlighten him, not shame and humiliate him? Perhaps that is the part of his background and culture that has to be attacked first, the one with a code of silence that destroys the men and women of East Baltimore and other places just like that. The only ones benefiting from the culture there are the politicians they keep electing. Maybe it is time to start thinking before they vote for the same old, same old.
Dwight grew up in a family that cared about him, but was not demonstrative. How old were his parents when they became parents? Why did they not live together? How did his father finally get straight? Perhaps his mother’s loyalty and hard work paid off, in the end. She had values that could be respected by him. However, because of his dysfunctional childhood and young adult years, he did not fulfill his childhood dream until he was well into what can only be called adulthood, and he did not learn how to give or receive love until he met his wife, Caron, who saw his potential and believed in him, after she got to know him better, and he got to know the man that he wanted to be. She is also an amazing example of what can be accomplished, in spite of the odds stacked against her, and in spite of this charge of white privilege and systemic racism, supposedly holding all others back. Still, there are definitely odds stacked against them at times. They fear cops and taunt the cops, which makes it a vicious circle of corruption. Even a pot will boil over sometimes. Taught that they have to appear strong and powerful, rather than behaving morally strong, they learn early that it is a dog-eat-dog world they live in, but that is East Baltimore and neighborhoods like it, not the real world outside of it. Who is it stacking the odds against them? That is the real question. In many ways, when you read this book, you will wonder why the people of neighborhoods like this allow such criminal gang behavior to dominate their streets. Their own community demands behavior that is beneath contempt, at times, and yet when offered opportunities, over and over, by outside communities, to improve themselves and the community, they either don’t avail themselves of the opportunity or they still blame the outsiders for their failures.
After reading this, I was faced with the realization that I would probably be dead had I been raised in his ghetto in the Baltimore that he loves so much and considers home. I would never have been able to succumb to the unethical and amoral behavior many of them do, and would have probably been murdered or beaten. I am an idealist and was “the class lawyer”, always defending the underdog, the one the thugs would have destroyed. I was part of the group of goody-two-shoes that threatened them with a conscience.
In some ways, I believe that D. Watkins was part of a group that could be called marginalized, but he participated in that marginalization with his silence, until he spoke out. Was he under-served? Most certainly, but not necessarily by outside communities. It was his own community that corrupted and threatened him, his own friends and family that made him a criminal. So, why is the outside community blamed?
… (mere)
thewanderingjew | Feb 5, 2023 |
Note: I accessed a digital review copy of this book through Edelweiss.
fernandie | Sep 15, 2022 |



Måske også interessante?

Associated Authors

David Talbot Foreword
Getty Images Cover artist
Emma A. Van Duen Cover designer
Allan Devin Author photographer
Reginald Thomas II Author photographer


Also by

Diagrammer og grafer