Sunday, December 16, 2012

Rage is Back by Adam Mansbach

Kilroy Dondi Vance is an eighteen-year-old mixed-race Brooklynite who deals pot and goes to prep school on scholarship, all while growing up in the shadow of his absentee father, Billy Rage, a legendary graffiti writer who disappeared from New York City in 1989 following a public feud with MTA police chief Anastacio Bracken.

Now it’s 2005. Bracken is running for mayor of New York City. And who should Dondi discover on a rooftop in Brooklyn but his father, newly returned to the city and ready to settle the score. The return of Rage and the mayoral race of Bracken prompt a reunion of every graffiti writer who mattered in the 1980s—in order to thwart Bracken with the greatest graffiti stunt New York City has ever seen.

Rage Is Back delivers a mind-bending journey through a subterranean world of epic heroes and villains. Moving through the city’s unseen communities, from the tunnel camps of the Mole People to the drug dens of Crown Heights, Rage Is Back is many things: a dramatic, hilarious thrill ride; a love letter to NYC that introduces the most powerful urban underdog narrator this side of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, and a literary tour de force from a writer on the brink of real stardom.
t’s not easy to describe a book like this one, because it really doesn’t fit into any formal categories. It’s a mix of comedy, urban attitude, and sharp sociological analysis. It really surprised me how much I enjoyed reading it, actually.

What makes this book so special is the narrator. His voice is wholly unique, and one that resonates from the very first sentence. Dondi, a young man born into the world of graffiti, is struggling to find his place. It could have turned into a melodrama, but the tight writing, the sharply comedic dialogues and monologues, make it such an entertaining book to read. Once you start it’s very hard to put down.

There is also a bit of magical realism, just a touch of it, throughout the pages, so that you get even more of a sense of mystique added to the already tricky world of graffiti. This is definitely a book worth reading, and one that I think most people will enjoy. Don’t let the subject matter deter you. This is one fabulously refreshing read.

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