Osvaldo's Reviews > Down These Mean Streets

Down These Mean Streets by Piri Thomas
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Jun 07, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: latino-lit
Read from June 04 to 07, 2011

Four and a half stars, really.

I wish someone had introduced me to this book when I was 14 years old to let me know someone else was thinking some of the crazy shit I thought and to put my own peculiar road (so different from Piri's) in perspective.

I read it for one field lists for my PhD in English, but I was moved by it, by Piri Thomas's voice and the questions he asks himself about race and ethnicity - about what it means to be Puerto Rican when a Puerto Rican can be black or white, but still never quite white in the eyes of America (just like they are citizens, but never quite citizens).

The comparisons to The Autobiography of Malcolm X are bound to happen, but Piri's story is his own story and I think comparisons are unfair. Malcolm wrote from a place of self-assurance, I get the sense that Piri never had that assurance (even in his Afterword written 30 years later) and also Malcolm also had Alex Haley to help him with his writing, Piri's voice is rawer and that gives it its own timbre that is worth listening for.

I want to teach this in a class with Black Boy and The Autobiography of Malcolm X and Notes from the Underground.
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06/04 page 4
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02/14 marked as: read
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