(l.) Beautiful Struggle author Ta-Nehisi Coates, (r.) Night of the Gun author David Carr at Barnes and Noble on East 86th Street — Monday, 7.6., 7:25 pm.
Here’s an mp4 (or rather, what used to be an mp4 before YouTube’s processor turned it into video ghoulash) of Carr reading a passage from his book about his father — a blunt, blustery, tough-love type.
I’m sorry for not having read Beautiful Struggle. It’s a growing-up-with-a-tough-dad story — growing up in a tough Baltimore neighborhood, the constant push-and-pull of temptations and admonitions, and his father being “steeped in race consciousness and willing to go to any lengths — including beatings — to keep his sons on the right path.”
Coates’ remarks last night told me he’s a frank and intelligent man of good and generous spirit. I’ll take the evidence of what I heard him read (on top of Carr’s praise) as a reliable indicator that his book is worth reading.
“I love Carr’s voice,” I wrote, calling it “at once flip and candid and yet elegant and wise. But the book is also a gripping, dead honest and well-reported confessional. And at the same time — no mean feat — dryly entertaining.
“Night of the Gun is one of those ‘I did this and whoa…I’m not dead!’ books, but of a much higher calibre. Much. Carr is a man of immense steel balls to have written this, and particularly to have gone back into the damp muddy tunnels of the past and fact-checked everything for three years. He did some 60 interviews with the witnesses and participants. He pored over the depressing documents (arrest reports, medical sheets) that all drug-users accumulate sooner or later. It must have revived nightmares. But Carr went and did it and bravely wrote this book, and did a bang-up job of it. Hat off, head bowed.”