Monday, March 16, 2009

Like a Good Neighbor

Dwayne Murray, Sr.
Madbo Enterprises (2009)
ISBN 9780976985525
Reviewed by Olivera Baumgartner-Jackson for Reader Views (2/09) 

A word of warning – unless you enjoy violence to the max, this book is not for you. If you are anything like me, you won't be able to finish it in one sitting; and unless you are really determined, you won't finish it at all. If, on the other hand, brutal murders, suicides, mutilations, rape of juveniles, death of babies, burn marks on bodies, and other assorted kinds of violence rock your boat, this is the one book you've been waiting for.

I find it difficult to assess this book fairly, since the world in it is so far removed from the one I choose to live in and was blessed enough to be born into as well. Let me make one thing very clear – I do not condemn anybody for living a life different from mine. Life is all about making choices, and we are free to make the any way we want. But such utter wickedness and unlimited capacity for violence make my head hurt, to say the least. They also make me be thankful for being who I am and where I am in my life right now. Yet I have to admit that in its own way, this is a brilliant book. The author has a very distinctive voice, and his descriptions of urban life of a significant percentage of the United States' population are priceless. His characters are three-dimensional and so fantastically twisted that one has to be fascinated by them. To keep matters more interesting, the one that should be the good one, the beautiful and seductive Raven, is anything but good; and the other that should be the bad one, the drug addict Crystal, will surprise everybody with her platinum character. The tale of the beautiful Raven, blowing into the lives of the tenants at 666 Cypress Avenue in Bronx like a welcome fresh breath of air; and then doing her best to blow them apart like a tornado, will make anybody think twice about moving into any building carrying the unlucky number 666…

Dwayne Murray's "Like a Good Neighbor" is not a pretty book, but it is decidedly a powerful one. Keeping it real is an important attribute, and they do not come much more real than this.

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