“On the eve of his thirty-fifth birthday, the unnamed black narrator of Man Gone Down finds himself broke, estranged from his white wife and three children, and living in the bedroom of a friend’s six-year-old child. He has four days to come up with the money to keep the kids in school and make a down payment on an apartment for them in which to live. As we slip between his childhood in inner city Boston and present-day New York City, we learn of a life marked by abuse, abandonment, raging alcoholism, and the best and worst intentions of a supposedly integrated America. This is a story of the American Dream gone awry, about what it’s like to feel preprogrammed to fail in life and the urge to escape that sentence.” https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/79420.Man_Gone_Down
Title: Man Gone Down
Author: Michael Thomas
Published December 2006 by Grove Press, Black Cat
Genre: Literary Fiction, Cultural
Page Count: 431
It took me three starts to finish this book, and the only reason I persevered is because my 2018 New Year’s Resolution was to finish the unfinished.
Man Gone Down takes place in New York. The main character is an educated black man struggling to overcome his past and provide for his wife and children. As a white woman I feel like it’s really important for me to read books like this. This beautifully written novel provides a powerful message about discrimination, dignity, perseverance, marriage, and family. Trigger warnings for child abuse, drug and alcohol abuse, abandonment, and hate crimes.
Although the story is compelling, I had a hard time connecting with the characters. The main character kept making strange decisions, which made it really hard to understand his motivations. The other characters felt one-dimensional. The writing is self-indulgent, confusing and repetitive.
“I wonder if this is what it feels like, falling out of love: feeling yourself fading out of existence – the gray sky, the coffee shop limbo – everything a way station of sorts. Making promises you know you can’t keep. Making promises – period. People in love shouldn’t have to vow or demand, petition or exhort. Nothing. Not even question. No collisions with your surroundings or yourself – you move gently, unknowing, in time.”
I’m not sure who would enjoy Man Gone Down, however, it did win the International DUBLIN Literary Award in 2009. From the Goodreads reviews I get the feeling that people either “love it or hate it”, so I say give it a try because Man Gone Down is an important book.
Overall: 2.3 rounded down to 2 on Goodreads
“Thomas was born and raised in Boston. He studied for a bachelor’s degree at Hunter College in New York City, where he now teaches, and for a master’s at Warren Wilson College. He currently lives in New York City, claiming to have never had a proper job although he has worked in several areas, including bars, restaurants, construction, pizza delivery, on film sets and driving a taxi. Thomas is married and lives with his wife and three children in Brooklyn.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Thomas_(author)