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Ace of Spades: A Memoir

3.5  ·  Rating details ·  78 Ratings  ·  15 Reviews
A take-no-prisoners tale of growing up without knowing who you are

When David Matthews's mother abandoned him as an infant, she left him with white skin and the rumor that he might be half Jewish. For the next twenty years, he would be torn between his actual life as a black boy in the ghetto of 1980s Baltimore and a largely imagined world of white privilege.

While his fathe
ebook, 320 pages
Published February 6th 2007 by Henry Holt and Co. (first published 2007)
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Jul 04, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bio-memoir
This memoir by David Matthews is fascinating. The idea of "passing" is so Harlem Renaissance (and earlier) era to me that it is just mind-boggling to read about a man in his early forties who spent the first 20 or so years of his life passing as a Jewish man. David Matthews has a black father and a Jewish mother. His appearance would lead one to believe he is just another nice Jewish boy or perhaps someone with a little Middle Eastern flavor in there somewhere.

His memoir lets readers peek into
Feb 28, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Challenging in more than one way, this smart memoir will keep you searching for your racial identity as well as your dictionary. It's smart, insightful, and really fun. Matthews talks about growing up in the "ghetto" of Baltimore, with a black father, absentee white Jewish mother, while he "passes" throughout his childhood and adolescence. Add in a best friend who acts like a European Shaft, and you have an awesome memoir. Not the easiest book to read at times, but definitely worthwhile. I feel ...more
May 27, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a really interesting book about what it means to grow up as a mixed race child forced to choose sides. The author grew up in Baltimore during the 70's and 80's with his activist father and without a mentally ill mother that abandoned him within months. He definitely passes as white and uses all that privilege to deny the other parts of himself. I read this in an evening.
Mar 16, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of literary memoirs
Recommended to Henry by: Ny Times review
I found this book to be profoundly affecting. There's a lot going on, and it's about much, much more than race--it's really a classic coming of age story with racial identity as a framework. The writing is powerful and elegant, and definitely challenged me beyond most of the memoirs I've come across, which seem to be written by non-writers with a story to tell. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but this is definitely a fascinating story told by a writer, first and foremost. I read it in ...more
Apr 23, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jody by: Kimber
I feel like over the years I've read a lot of growing up biracial memoirs. This one has some serious spunk though. I liked the writing style as it was personal. It really connected me to the author. He was not afraid to admit to his mistakes. He really challenges himself and his understanding of himself in the context of growing up torn between two races in a culture and time when your race is so critically important. (The story took place in Baltimore, which I also liked. I haven't been much ou ...more
Apr 03, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
No holds barred, unpitying, un-PC...sounds like negatives but these qualities ensure this memoir is not another mamby-pamby "how we are all one and I learned to love my mixed race heritage". Told from his perspective growing up half-black, half-white but "passing" for white while living with his African-American Dad who wrote for one of the more venerable AA newspapers. In Baltimore, on the edge of the ghettos. Made me revisit and rethink the process of creating your identity without ever using ...more
Mar 16, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A brutal look at growing up in a society which defines identity through race.
Katie Blakey
I'm pretty conflicted about this book. The writing style seems really uneven, with some passages being extremely dense and full of challenging vocabulary, followed by sentences that are intentionally dumbed down in an effort to be snappy. However, things even out by the end.

His descriptions of trying (and usually succeeding) to pass as white were really interesting and upsetting at once. Without having had to live in that position, it's difficult to empathize with the author as, aside from when
Sep 10, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am too tired of angry-guy lit to have taken this book seriously. There was a story here worth telling, and some important lessons to be learned, but they were so deeply buried in an unsound text that it almost wasn't worth trying to ferret them out.

However, if you are find with angry-guy lit, you may be able to get something out of this text I could not.
Aug 11, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
A good book about racism. This is about a growing boy torn up between being a white or a black. Since having the traits of both, his father a black and his mother a white, David Matthews shares his struggles in coping up in a place where identity is is crucially important and a liability.
Kate Levin
This guy's obsessed with his dick. And there's some narrative gimmickry going on in this memoir that I didn't like. But I appreciated his honesty, his humor at times, and his portrayal of his relationship with his father. Strangely there was a lot in this book that resonated with me.
May 21, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: ?
This was a good avoiding-schoolwork book. I didn't hate it enough to put it down. But it's also not particularly good. I didn't like his tone...and he has all these annoying comments in footnotes....
Aug 20, 2009 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: a
i found it in the library on the ship
Dec 12, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I cringed during this entire book. From the writing style to the content it was just painful. This book was filled with bitching and moaning and self diagnosis.
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