D O N N E L L ... A L E X A N D E R
Press about Donnell Alexander:
Review by Katie Haegele in the Philadelphia Weekly
"There's a lot of good, snappy nonfiction out there right now. Smart young writers reared on magazine polish and sitcom one-liners just keep churning out charming little memoirs, and that's all well and good. But once in a great while a writer comes along whose story--and sound--is so unique and wonderful that they change everything, from the way you read to the way you look at the world. Donnell Alexander is one of those writers."
Review by Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts in the Boston Phoenix
"There are no pronouncements, no golden epiphanies. Whether fatalistic or simply a middle finger to the entire genre of soul-searching black-manhood memoir, Ghetto Celebrity announces a writer of genuine talent, if slippery character. Here is a book that is smart, complex, and taut. Despite the many evasions, there is genius in it, perhaps in everything thatís been left out."
Review by Jackson Griffith in Sacramento News & Review
"Alexander has a definite facility for language, swerving back and forth between straightforward narrative and black English idioms the way a jazz musician can play a chorus of a standard tune and then lurch into blowing 'outside' for 32 or 64 bars before locking back into the melody, right on the beat. And many of the first-person stories in Ghetto Celebrity are flat-out funny, the kind that make you laugh out loud and then put the book down, stare into space and think ."
Review by Ann Cummins in the San Francisco Chronicle
"Moving easily from hip-hop jargon (Alexander understands American pop culture from the inside out, with a special grasp of hip-hop) to highbrow prose and many styles in between, Alexander's voice is engaging, his persona extremely likable..."
Review by Andy Wang in The New York Press
"Donnell Alexander writes the way Missy Elliott builds tracks. He changes speeds, moods and directions without warning, using wildly different voices, creating art that can be both invigorating and wearying to digest. His writing is, in a word, relentless."
Review by Susan Carpenter in the Los Angeles Times
"The book's unusual format and hybrid nature make it difficult to classify. When asked where he would put it in a bookstore, Alexander dodged the question, deferring to the Library of Congress descriptor: social life and customs, 20th century. Pressed on the issue, Alexander said, 'I'd knock over Harry Potter's table if I could, that's where I'd put it'."
Article by Trish Doller in the Sandusky Register
""I have a lot of warm feelings for the time I spent in Sandusky," Alexander said. "But I don't feel like it was a place of great opportunity growing up. I had fun in Sandusky, but it was usually doing stuff I shouldn't be doing.""
in Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune
"This memoir is a success, however, not because of Delbert, but because of his son's way with words. When he's at his best, combining hip-hop, high-brow and something entirely his own, Alexander is a bright and original expository writer."
in the Library Journal
"If this were simply the tale of a young black man coming to terms with his father, the biography of a father scuffling to survive the mean streets, or the autobiography of a quick-witted rising star making his home amid California's alternative press, it would still be a success. But there's more: Donnell's rhythmic, inventive, liquid prose flows freely over, pools atop, and roils around these three intertwined stories like clear water over a California streambed."
Review by Leah Samuel in the Michigan Citizen
"The book is interspersed with hip-hop and street lingo and literary wordplay, which can be all at once intriguing and nerve wracking with its cleverness and intricacy. In some ways, it is a coming-of-age-in-the-ghetto confessional in the tradition of Claude Browns Manchild in the Promised Land, updated for the hip-hop generation."
by Darryl Wellington in the American Journalism Review
"The worst of Donnell Alexander's Ghetto Celebrity comes, unfortunately, right at the beginning. Alexander's obnoxious introduction to this memoir of his writing career, which spanned culture, rap and sports, may have some readers dismissing the book as hopelessly sophomoric. It's total 'I'm a ghetto player with incredible sexual prowess, therefore dig me' pandering--easy, sexist and embarrassing. "
Review by John Dicker in the Colorado Springs Independent
"Ghetto Celebrity is one of the most infuriatingly readable memoirs of recent years. It's out in hardcover, but would be better suited for Nerf: I longed to scrunch it into a ball and punt it across my living room, but with every intention of returning to it. "
"I am a black baby boomer, official 'old school.' I prefer the sweet swinging of African-American voices and musical rhythms to the rhyming and rhythmic recital of bad poetry, even African-American mostly-would-be poetry/rap, loudly in my ears, over and over. And I don't need recordings of cuss; I know cuss. Very well. Cuss don't bother or impress me. S'ahlrite now and agin. And I do remember being 17 and on the other side of the black generational cultural divide. But I'd read fully a third of Donnell Alexander's Ghetto Celebrity before I realized this celebrated book had a story to tell. "
Review by Saab Lofton in the Las Vegas CityLife
"To its credit, Ghetto Celebrity: Searching for the Delbert in Me bares the souls of author Donnell Alexander and his father, Delbert... After Donnell had become a successful freelance writer (his account of the inner workings of ESPN Magazine is to die for), he decided to track the elusive Delbert down, much to his mother's chagrin. In the final analysis, Ghetto Celebrity might as well have been printed with blood instead of ink."
"Alexander's self-regard makes the story more about him than his work. The conceit sparkles when focused on the acquiescent dynamics of the father-son bond, which Alexander surveys from a curious distance as he discerns his own weaknesses. The manic mix makes for more slop than it should, but when its heart takes the stage, Ghetto Celebrity filters the blood of family down to a healing tonic."
"In the end, sadly, Delbert remains as he was at the beginning, a 'low-life,' as Donnell Alexander's mother described him before succumbing to his charms as a teenager in Sandusky. The question that Alexander seems to have sidestepped is why any of this should be of interest to us."
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