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3.96  ·  Rating details ·  110 ratings  ·  26 reviews
In Knucklehead, we meet Marcus Hayes, a brilliant black attorney who struggles, often unsuccessfully, with the impulse to confront everyday bad behavior with swift and antisocial action. The cause of this impulse is unknown to him. When he unexpectedly becomes involved with the kind, intelligent Amalia Stewart, her love and acceptance pacify his demons. But when his demons
Paperback, 340 pages
Published February 13th 2018 by Akashic Books
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Asha The cats do not get hurt in this book. Also, although the 3 cats are present throughout the duration of the story, there isn't much focus on them.

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3.96  · 
Rating details
 ·  110 ratings  ·  26 reviews

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Michael Ferro
My full review will be published in the Michigan Quarterly Review later this year:
Lark Benobi
Mar 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The writing in this novel is very loose. There is a casualness about the prose that is both endearing and distancing--it's a style where you never know what the narrator is going to do or say next. In one scene after another the protagonist continues a debate with himself, the debate of his lifetime, about whether this is the time when he'll resort to deadly violence to solve his problems. From moment to moment he relies on some sign that will give him permission to unleash his rage, and you kee ...more
Marcus Hayes is young, gifted and Black. A promising attorney with an acerbic wit, he ushers the reader through 1990’s America spotlighting the Black Male experience. Pivotal events like the Rodney King beating are described with such clarity that they evoke a visceral response. Micro-aggressions are illuminated in such compelling fashion that they recall vivid memories of slights ignored, bitten tongues and offenses shoved so deep that they threaten to erupt at any moment. The difference with M ...more
Aug 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A satirical new voice has arrived and he will be around a long time judging from this debut effort. Simply fascinating how the author, Adam Smyer uses the character Marcus Hayes, an African-American attorney, to traverse through nearly a decade from 1988-1997, all the while chronicling the days in the life of a young Black man with all the attendant worries, micro aggressions relationships loves, losses, doing so with unbridled hilarity. The book is written like we, the readers, are perusing thr ...more
Apr 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
you should probably read this if you are a white person living in the USA, but warning that it will make you so angry you'll die of anger.

no, i exaggerate. it's also v. funny. i listened to the audiobook and the performer really, really performs it. it's brilliant.

but i couldn't take more than a little bit a day, cuz it's gripping and fierce and infuriating and it makes you want to kill all white people.*

* i am a white person living in the USA
Mar 30, 2018 added it
Shelves: 2018, newtome2018
Gathering my thoughts on this book.
Lisa Scheff
Feb 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
First things first, I could not put this book down once I started. I finished it in a blaze of binge-reading. The story is compelling, gut-wrenching, infuriating and--remarkably for all that--filled with laugh out loud moments in almost every chapter.

The protagonist and narrator Marcus Hayes is a young black attorney who has recently relocated to San Francisco from NY after being offered a job by a big law firm. The story takes place in the late 80s and early 90s and covers many of the iconic e
Edward Newman
Feb 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A Wondrous, Angry American Candide

Our due as Americans, we are told, are the rights, on equal footing, to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. What then, is the sane response when everyone seems bent on snatching it all away? And when they start succeeding? Marcus Hayes, the young African-American lawyer who is the protagonist of Adam Smyer's virtuoso debut novel tells us: there are only insane (and increasingly dangerous) responses to an insane America (which he senses never really want
Feb 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Marcus' future is golden: a young black man surging through law school in New York City with flying colors, all but guaranteed a position with a big-name law firm. Marcus' girlfriend Amalia, brilliant and beautiful fellow law student, successfully checks his lifelong compulsion to engage in voluntary verbal and physical altercations. After graduation, California and the good life beckon...

Like others, I had difficulties putting this book down -- often out of sheer fascination, and at other times
Feb 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
A very promising and enjoyable debut. There have been several recent brilliant satirical novels about the ironies and futilities of African-American life, including Paul Beatty's "The Sellout" and James Hannaham's "Delicious Foods". "Knucklehead" is even better. It's a hard right hook to your forehead, with plenty of wit, simmering rage, love, grief, political incorrectness, and a trip down the 1990s' memory lane.
Feb 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Funny, gripping, dark, necessary, dripping with allegory. I don't want to say anything more specific because of spoilers, but also because his writing style, even during mundane descriptions of things, just shines and deserves to just speak for itself.
Apr 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book and think almost everyone with any emerging interest in how our identities and experiences inform our perceptions should read it. This is not a book about anger, rage, bad behavior or lurid language, though it does contain those things; it is a book about a man and his experience of the world. It is sincere and complex and speaks truth.
Feb 25, 2018 rated it did not like it
This is the author's debut novel but I could not get into this one. Subject matter, characters, writing style - just not anything that appealed to me. Struggling to get to page 100, I finally decided to quit. I received this copy from LibraryThing Giveaway for an honest review.
Mar 02, 2018 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: No one.
This is basically a novel that you would expect from a affluent black conservative living in California. The author (erm protagonist) is honestly a new black and can really afford to be one because he's an attorney. The description of the book is very misleading. The black woman that calms his demons is like only 10% of the book (if that). The rest is him running around with a racist white woman (that's handled with kid gloves throughout the book) who in the ends does him dirty, but the author ( ...more
Jul 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebook
Opera prima, autobiografica, non ancora tradotta in Italiano. La storia si svolge a partire dai primi anni ‘90 quando il protagonista è un promettente studente di legge e poi un giovane avvocato a San Francisco. Lavora tanto, fa tanti soldi, si sposa. Fa una vita normale, compreso il fatto di reagire, almeno all’inizio, con humour e ironia, a quel razzismo sotto traccia a cui ogni nero d’America è abituato. Poi accadono due eventi cruciali che danno alla sua vita e alla storia una svolta drammat ...more
Ezgi ☕️
Jul 12, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: giveaways, own
This book touches heavy topics like black lives matter and cancer and domestic violence. I really like the beginning of it. In early 90s, Black man becomes a successful lawyer despite the racism, internal struggles... marries with a great lady and have a blissful marriage. Then I don’t know what happens to him (other than the obvious). He is caught in a downfall and it seems to be unstoppable. Gets in trouble in every way possible. I really did not like the violent tendencies in him as well... h ...more
Aug 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
One of the great gifts of reading is the chance to get inside someone else's body and see what that feels like. This book allows one to feel the frustrations, hurt and rage of a young black man growing up in the 80's and 90's in NYU Law School and working for a law firm in San Francisco. A telling moment for me was when the protagonist was watching the film Sankofa in a theater where most of the audience is white and they keep glancing at him there with his white girlfriend. Or when a colleague ...more
Audrey Larson
Feb 07, 2018 rated it liked it
"Bad behavior with swift and antisocial action" is what this book is about, along with some of the most foul language, right from the beginning of the book.

It starts off with a shocking childhood "experiment," which almost made me throw the book away, but since the book was a free arc I felt obligated to read and review it.

Well, it certainly is "different." The character's constantly, wildly dangerous driving alone made me uncomfortable. The author is obviously a well-educated, talented writer.
Roger Smitter
Mar 09, 2018 rated it liked it
The first half is a good if formulaic story line about law school and love A Black law school student falls in love and the couple starts their careers in law. We get insights into what it’s like to be a new lawyer in a big firm AND what it’s like to be black in a major Chicago firm.

The second half goes in a very different direction. Telling you would be a spoiler. But the story goes into a list of statements of anger. We get a series of individual events that, read in context, make some sense.
Jul 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
We were the last people on Earth, talking and fucking in the dark. Nights like that made me forget about the other stuff.

I was lucky enough to read this as a manuscript. Very cool to see it on display in my library.
Nov 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This series of anecdotes forms a story of a short rise then sustained fall of the narrator. I suspect this novel is part autobiographical and part wish fulfillment, complete with the crappy consequences that can come from from indulging one’s impulses.
Colin Summers
Apr 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great, fast paced trip from an under appreciated viewpoint

Smyer writes well of things I know. He has crafted believable dialog, and fascinating interpersonal relationships, with an urban, racially charged atmosphere.
Sep 11, 2018 rated it did not like it
For for me. Quit at the beginning
Alexandria Southern
Feb 26, 2018 rated it liked it
I loved Marcus' character- his personality was crazy and indifferent. I did feel as though some chapters were unnecessary and drawn out.
Dec 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
"On Christmas '96 I did not get out of bed. I did not answer the phone. I did not drown my cats or hang myself. That's what I did that day. It took some doing."

Big mood.
Brad Marcus
Feb 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A great, quick read. Adam tells the story of a black man living in 90's America in a conversational way, using diary entries to tell his tale. Impossible to put down. Terrific book!!
Jassy Tamyra West
rated it really liked it
Mar 28, 2018
Amber Starbuck
rated it really liked it
Mar 25, 2018
Kim Chilvers
rated it it was amazing
Jan 04, 2019
rated it liked it
Feb 22, 2019
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