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The Last Thing You Surrender: A Novel of World War II by Leonard Pitts Jr.

The Last Thing You Surrender: A Novel of World War II by Leonard Pitts Jr.

Could you find the courage to do what’s right in a world on fire?

 

Pulitzer-winning journalist and bestselling novelist Leonard Pitts, Jr.’s new historical page-turner is a great American tale of race and war, following three characters from the Jim Crow South as they face the enormous changes World War II triggers in the United States.

 

“The Last Thing You Surrender” is the intertwining story of two families from the Jim Crow South – one black and poor, the other wealthy and white – through the carnage of World War II, an ordeal that will threaten their faith and challenge everything they know about race hatred and love.

 

An affluent white marine survives Pearl Harbor at the cost of a black messman’s life only to be sent, wracked with guilt, to the Pacific and taken prisoner by the Japanese . . . a young black woman, widowed by the same events at Pearl, finds unexpected opportunity and a dangerous friendship in a segregated Alabama shipyard feeding the war . . . a black man, who as a child saw his parents brutally lynched, is conscripted to fight Nazis for a country he despises and discovers a new kind of patriotism in the all-black 761st Tank Battalion.


Set against a backdrop of violent racial conflict on both the front lines and the home front, The Last Thing You Surrender explores the powerful moral struggles of individuals from a divided nation. What does it take to change someone’s mind about race? What does it take for a country and a people to move forward, transformed?

 

Nora Jean M. Goodreads 5-Star Customer Review for The Last Thing You Surrender 
This is a POWERFUL read, and I highly recommend it to anyone who is an avid reader. The language is beautiful although the story is haunting. The character development is very real, and it makes the reader hurt even more for these people who become important to the readers’ lives. This is an area of history that we do not learn in school, and the author has provided an imitate portrait of this time. Read this book!

 

Reader Review from Grayson Hugh
5.0 out of 5 stars | A New Classic

The best novels not only entertain us with good characters, an interesting story and skillful prose; they show us something about what it means to be a human being. Tolstoy, Joyce , Faulkner, Hemmingway, Updike, Morrison, Baldwin, Wright, Momaday, to name just a few, have created timeless works that are timeless stories of the human experience. With “The Last Thing You Surrender”, by Leonard Pitts, Jr., we have a new classic.

It is fitting that it is a story about race, as it would seem the brains and souls of men and women, especially in America, need to continue to evolve. But this book, The Last Thing You Surrender, is more, much more, than a dry treatise on that subject. It is a love story, a human story, a story of war and peace, it is a story about the love, pain, the joys and sorrows that pass between a parent and child, grandparent and grandchild, sister and brother.

It is the story of what is learned and lost between forces of good and evil. It is eloquent, heartbreaking and beautiful. It is a new classic. Read it, America; read it, world. And learn some more about that most tremendous gift of all that the Creator gave us: the ability to see things through another’s eyes, to care deeply about someone other than one’s self, in short, to love.

 

 

Reader Review from Sheila Boyce
5.0 out of 5 stars | Powerful, compelling and important story

Since first reading Leonard Pitts, Jr.’s columns in the Miami Herald almost 18 years ago, I have found that if Pitts has something to say, I want to read it. . . in fact, I need to read it. He can put complex, often difficult, ideas into beautiful words that show the reader his point of view, educating and helping the reader gain empathy and understanding.

I ordered Pitt’s latest book, #TheLastThingYouSurrender, as soon as it was released – and it was everything I expected and more. It is a deeply researched work of historical fiction, with a compelling story that is hard to put down. I tried to keep from racing through the book, as I didn’t want to say goodbye to the characters who became friends, and who showed me the world through their eyes – which is why we read!

Yes, there are parts that are very difficult to read, but part of the power of this book is to show us, to remind us of the brutality of parts of our history that get glossed over as some of us extol the “good old days.”

I highly recommend this book, and hope Mr. Pitts will write a sequel to show us how they carry their inspiration and motivation into battles to come.

 

 

Editorial Review: The Last Thing You Surrender
Leonard Pitts, Jr., a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist, turns again to America’s fraught history of race relations in this unflinching, gritty WWII saga. It centers on a trio of finely drawn characters, two black and one white, all from Alabama, whose worlds collide because of Pearl Harbor.

Marine Private George Simon—wealthy, religious, white—survives the sinking of his ship because Eric Gordy, a black messman, rescues him. Eric dies, and while George recuperates, he pays a condolence call on Eric’s widow, Thelma. Thelma and her brother, Luther Hayes, a bitter alcoholic, are living with the memory of their parents’ lynching 20 years earlier.

George and Thelma begin a correspondence after he returns to active duty; she takes a job in a shipyard. Luther, deciding this is a white man’s war, tries to evade the draft but ends up serving with a tank battalion in Europe. George endures horrific conditions in the Pacific as Thelma faces growing racial hostility at work, culminating in a brutal moment of violence that compels her to make a difficult decision.

While remaining true to his characters, Pitts brings the story lines to realistic conclusions even as he holds out hope for the future, resulting in a polished, affecting novel. —Janelle Walden Agyeman, Agent Marie Brown Assoc.

 

 


Chapter Excerpt: The Last Thing You Surrender

Luther stood on top of the tank. He felt his mouth fall open. He felt his mind fumble for language. But there were no words.

It was a camp of some sort, barracks arranged in neat rows. And hobbling, shuffling, tottering toward them from every direction came an assemblage of stick men in filthy black-and-white striped prison suits. Maybe some of them were women, too. It was hard to tell. The creatures seemed sexless.

Dazed, Luther dismounted the tank. His mouth was still open.

The creatures swarmed the colored tankers. It was difficult to believe they were even human. Their eyes were like those of small, frightened animals, peering out from the caverns their eye sockets had become. Their mouths were drawn tight against their bony jaws. You could look at them and see where tibia met patella, count their ribs by sight. They were little more than skeletons wearing rags of flesh.

And their eyes gleamed with a madness of joy, an insanity of deliverance at the sight of the colored tankers. They shook clasped hands toward Heaven, they smiled terrible, toothless smiles, they looked up at the Negro soldiers like penitents gazing upon the very throne of God. A woman—at least he thought it was a woman—took Luther’s hand and lifted it to her cheek. Her grip was like air. She held his skin to hers, which was papery and thin, almost translucent. Her face contorted into an expression of raw, utter sorrow, and she made groaning sounds that did not seem quite human. It took Luther a moment to realize that she was crying because her eyes remained dry, no water glistened on her cheeks. She had no tears left in her.

And Luther, who had never touched a white woman before, who had never so much as brushed against one in a crowd, who had avoided even that incidental contact with a kind of bone-deep terror accessible only to a Negro man in the Deep South who grew up knowing all too well what messing with a white woman could get you, could only stand there, stricken and dumbfounded, as this woman pressed his hand to her cheek. He was a man who had seen his parents tortured and burned to death before his very eyes at his own front door by white people. It had never occurred to him that their capacity for bestial cruelty was not limited to the woes they inflicted upon Negroes.

But here was the proof, this poor thing whose gender he had to guess, this creature whose age might have been 16, might have been 60, holding his hand in her airy grip, crying without tears.

Luther looked around. The place reeked of death and shit, a stink of putrefaction that surely profaned the very nostrils of God. Naked and emaciated bodies lay stacked in piles exactly like cordwood, only their gaping mouths and sightless eyes attesting to the fact that once they had been human and alive. Flies droned above it all in great black clouds, a few of them occasionally descending to walk in the mouths and eyes of the dead.

At length, the crying woman got hold of herself. Luther gently took back his hand. She gave him a shy, weak smile, touched her feathery hand to his shoulder—some sort of thank-you, he supposed—and wandered slowly away. Luther watched her go, still dazed, still failed by language. And he still struggled to understand. It had never occurred to him, not even in his angriest, most bitter imaginings, that something like this was possible.

How could white people do this to white people?

How could anybody do this to anybody?

( Continued… )

© 2019 All rights reserved. Book excerpt reprinted by permission of the author, Leonard Pitts Jr. Do not reproduce, copy or use without the author’s written permission. This excerpt is used for promotional purposes only.

Purchase The Last Thing You Surrender: A Novel of World War II by Leonard Pitts Jr.

Amazon:
https://www.amazon.com/Last-Thing-You-Surrender-Novel/dp/1572842458

Barnes&Noble:
https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-last-thing-you-surrender-leonard-pitts-jr/1128941167

Publisher:
https://www.agatepublishing.com/titles/the-last-thing-you-surrender

Goodreads:
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/38225249-the-last-thing-you-surrender

 

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Miami Beat III: Illusions by Frederica Burden

Mirror, mirror on the wall… someone’s shooting star is bound to fall. Will one go down, or will they all?

Sidney Stevens has a front row seat to the destruction of everyone she loves. Her family is poised to drive her absolutely crazy as she runs from one person to the other, extinguishing fires. Sidney faces the ultimate betrayal when her brother exposes the love of her life and his heinous crimes. Now she is forced to decide between what her heart feels and what her mind knows to be true.

Chief of Police Marcus J. Mystic has his hands full with a maniacal wife who is hot and heavy on his heels. Vondra has escaped the North Florida Mental Hospital with a plan and a purpose. If the authorities don’t capture her soon, they will all be doomed. Mystic also grapples with his love affair with Sidney. Their once sizzling union has now been doused with ice-cold reality due to accusations levied against Mystic by Randy Jr. Sadly, Mystic’s list of critics is growing longer by the minute. It’s a race against time to see who gets to him first.

Can Mystic convince Sidney of the truth before it’s too late?

Locked away in prison, Randy Jr. faces his own version of hell as he stares down a hefty sentence for murder. He is desperate to get out of prison and settle the score with his enemies. Will prison be the distraction that he needs to get his life together or just another place for his sins to incubate?

Spencer thought that he was off the hook for Linda’s murder, but now he finds himself in a battle for his own life. Spencer has to prove to everyone that he isn’t the killer, but he isn’t entirely convinced of his own innocence. Luckily, he has Artie in his corner.

Artie Garcia has been an integral person in everyone’s life, but deep within the recesses of his heart, he holds secrets that threaten to destroy him. As he vies for Sidney’s affections and aspires for a higher position on the force, Artie tests the bounds of friendship and loyalty to see his goals manifest. The games that he plays will put his life in jeopardy. Only Artie can determine if it’s worth the risk.

Join the characters of Miami Beat III: Illusions as they return for another action-packed journey guaranteed to have you questioning whether what you see is the truth or merely an illusion.

 

Miami Beat: The Secret Society by Frederica P. Burden
Listen to a chilling audio excerpt from Miami Beat: http://www.audioacrobat.com/note/CTgGTxsX

Miami Beat II: Dilemmas by Frederica P. Burden
Listen to a dramatic reading from Miami Beat II: Dilemmas: https://www.audioacrobat.com/note/CCmvBHQX

Miami Beat III: Illusions by Frederica P. Burden
Listen to a dramatic reading from Miami Beat III: Illusions: http://www.audioacrobat.com/note/CwmNTyfX

 

 


Excerpt: Chapter 11

Marcus Mystic appraised his reflection in the mirror with a smile. His bright green eyes sparkled with charm and charisma. His skin was the color of café au lait, and his smile could make any woman melt. For years he got by on his looks and his charm. He did climb through the ranks of the Police Department rather quickly, based on his experience and knowledge which he so prominently displayed, daily.

He thought about Sidney every minute of the day when he was apart from her. It bothered Mystic that he couldn’t get through to Sidney. He loved her desperately, but he also knew that he couldn’t say but so much. Although he cared about Sidney, he also cared about his job and his lifestyle that he worked so hard for.

Mystic hated keeping secrets, and he despised scandal. Currently, he was involved in a huge scandal. He still had Killa Dre’s hand in his possession. He knew that the heat would come down on him hard if someone found out that he knew who was behind the slaying of Killa Dre.

Killa Dre’s death was a great benefit to the community because the drugs he sold and controlled in the neighborhood was to their detriment. Mystic knew that Killa Dre’s murder wouldn’t wholly eliminate drug abuse in the community, but it would slow it down considerably until a new gangster took over.

Mystic didn’t miss Killa Dre, but he knew that someone would. He knew personally that a few officers were on Killa Dre’s payroll. He surmised that they would try to investigate the death of Killa Dre to avenge him.

Killa Dre’s criminal empire kept food on the table for some of the most unlikely individuals. It unnerved Mystic that he had to actually cover for Randy Jr., but Mystic couldn’t think of another way to fix the situation with the love of his life and winning her trust back.

Mystic couldn’t win.

Sidney was pissed with him, and he didn’t know how to get her to believe in him again. Mystic considered that if he turned in Killa Dre’s hand and affirmed where he located the hand, Randy Jr. wouldn’t stand a chance. He would never be let out of prison with an additional murder charge on his record.

Mystic considered the idea. Randy Jr. hated him. He knew a few things that Sidney didn’t. Mystic wondered if he let Randy Jr. rot in prison how long it would take before Sidney forgot about the accusations he hurled at Mystic during the prison visitation. He wondered if he would ever get Sidney back in his arms.

That was only one of his troubles.

Vondra was posed to cause him some serious issues if she didn’t calm down in the mental hospital. He estimated locking her away at the North Florida Mental Hospital was a great temporary solution to his troubles, but he could tell that something wasn’t working correctly. Vondra called him daily, nonstop.

Vera called him just as often as Vondra. Mystic ignored her incessant calls. He blocked the hospital number from his cell phone and told himself that he would deal with it when he was ready. Mystic couldn’t tell his aunt about the issue because he really didn’t want to speak with anyone at the hospital. So, he ignored every call that came through his phone, unless it came from his office.

Mystic wanted to just bury Vondra at the hospital and walk away, forever. He begged his aunt for help, and Vera quickly jumped into action. He considered contacting Vera to tell her that Vondra had somehow obtained telephone privileges. That way he could stop the incessant phone calls. She left him messages, over 100 per day. Mystic simply deleted the messages he received from the hospital.

He no longer cared.

Now that he was the Chief of Police he had real things to worry about. He didn’t have time to chase behind his wife to make sure that she was taking her medication and abiding by the law. It was too tiring for Mystic.

The two women in his life were both driving him crazy.

( Continued… )

© 2019 All rights reserved. Miami Beat III book excerpt reprinted by permission of the author, Frederica Paremore Burden. Do not reproduce, copy or use without the author’s written permission. This excerpt is used for promotional purposes only.

 

 


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Reviews for Two Steps Past the Altar by Patricia A. Bridewell

Pharmaceutical sales representative, Sasha Edmonds, is a motivated high-flyer with a stellar track record at Wexel Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Being the top sales rep and having a fiancé who loves her is more than she could ever imagine. But it’s not enough. Her obsession with climbing the corporate ladder is the number one goal that she strives to reach by any means necessary. Until she learns that her mother requires a new medication for her life-threatening medical condition.

When she discovers that her fiancé, Damien Taylor, may be cheating, she breaks off their engagement. In the midst of healing, she becomes captivated with Wesley Dunbar, a wealthy pharmaceutical businessman that may hold the cure for her mom and Sasha’s wounded heart. Although she attempts to resist Wesley’s romantic overtures, his charm, status, and kindness open a window of opportunities to consider.

While Damien tries to woo her back into his life, her involvement with Wesley becomes complicated. A surfeit of lies and deception causes a web of mixed emotions as she struggles to help her mom and determine whether Damien or Wesley is the real love of her life.

Reviews for Two Steps Past the Altar by Patricia A. Bridewell

 

4.5 stars – An independent career woman learns about love and forgiveness
“This story had me captivated as I followed Sasha’s journey to maturity. How would she respond to the curve balls thrown at her? Which love interest would she choose in the end?

You will enjoy following Sasha’s journey as she navigates betrayal, misunderstandings, and detours with her friendships, love interests, family, and career. A story of redemption, forgiveness, friendships, growing up, and most of all love.” 4.5 stars on this one!

 

5.0 out of 5 stars Engaging Read!
“Patricia Bridewell delivers a five-star read where passion collides with mistrust and leads to doubt, as a workaholic bride-to-be navigates a career shakeup while trying to get her best friend through her wedding. In the meantime, she secretly plots to cancel her own nuptial plans. I could not stop reading this book until I found out if holy matrimony would prevail.”

 

Absolutely wonderful
“A wonderful story of love and forgiveness. I do admire Sasha for the way she handled Wesley and her employer. Damien’s behavior was disappointing at Tamar’s wedding but with the help of God he redeemed himself. Great book. A must read.”

“Sasha Edmonds is a pharmaceutical rep at Wexel Pharmaceuticals who is at the top of her career. Her fiancé Damien Taylor loves her dearly but she’s all about climbing the corporate ladder. Her father Bishop is the pastor of the church. Her mother has a life-threatening illness that needs medications. In the story, Sasha has doubts about the relationships with everyone. She meets Wesley who has the medications that her mother desperately needs. Her and Wesley’s relationship becomes complicated. What will Sasha do to get what she wants and at what price?

I read this book in a couple of days because I really enjoyed it and wanted to know what was going to happen next. So, I kept turning pages until I finished it. This is my first time reading something by this author. I really enjoyed the author’s writing style. I like how the chapters flowed one after the other. The characters were well developed and relatable. The themes in this story are forgiveness, friendships, restoration, and redemption. The plot and suspense were unpredictable. I like how the storyline went smoothly and I could comprehend this story. I recommend this book and I give it 5 stars.”

 

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Justice on the Jersey Shore: How Ermon K. Jones Ignited Change and Won by Dr. Geneva Jones Williams

 

Justice on the Jersey Shore: How Ermon K. Jones Ignited Change and Won by Dr. Geneva Jones Williams
Listen to the BAN Radio Show interview with Ella D. Curry and Dr. Geneva:  http://tobtr.com/11304155

 

Justice on the Jersey Shore: How Ermon K. Jones Ignited Change and Won demonstrates the power of inspired leadership-how an ordinary person can use his or her personal influence to transform reality. In this riveting, true story of how a spiritual, soft-spoken basketball star became a fearless advocate for the oppressed and powerless in his community, a decades-old battle for social change gains new relevance.

Ermon K. Jones’ two college degrees, sports fame, charisma and good looks meant nothing when he was denied the right to apply for a job and buy a new house in his own hometown. How he fought back against a segregated society, outdated thinking and even hate crimes made a lasting difference for his family and for the lives of countless others.

Dr. Geneva Jones Williams, an expert on influential leadership, uses interviews with her heroic father, her own recollections and the historic record to share lessons from the past that can help resolve the worst conflicts and divisions of our time.

Purchase Justice on the Jersey Shore: How Ermon K. Jones Ignited Change and Won on Amazon
https://www.amazon.com/Justice-Jersey-Shore-Ignited-Change/dp/1480871486

 

 


Connect with Dr. Geneva Jones Williams

Dr. Geneva Jones Williams Is A Powerful Change Agent.

She is a spark that ignites change and positively impacts communities, classrooms and corporations. She is cited among the Top 100 women influencers or “game changers” in Detroit that get things done in the community through collaboration – using her oft-called-upon confident communication skills, to the tune of over $100 million dollars raised.

A defining moment came when, as a teenager, her family received hate mail and had crosses on her family’s front lawn saying “get out” of their home in New Jersey. Inspired by her father’s tireless role as courageous civil rights leader, leadership became an emphasis of Dr. Geneva’s [Williams] career.

Dr. Geneva Jones Williams Speaks At Educational Institutions, Major Corporations, Non-Profit Organizations, And Small Businesses Nationwide.
Well known for her celebrated career as a non-profit leader and trail-blazer, she became the first female executive vice president of the United Way in southeastern Michigan. Always up ready to roll up her sleeve for a challenge, she became the founding president of City Connect, Detroit’s first public/private philanthropic organization to secure national funding for community problems. Dr. Geneva blazed trails also as the first female president and chief executive officer of United Community Services and has also launched many organizations that help people and make a difference for others.

Seeing her dad in action shaped her view about what you’re expected to do in life: overcome the tough times, raise up, train and ignite leaders to make impact in urban communities and leave a legacy of greatness for generations to come.

 

Her Mission Is To Encourage Civic Leaders And Every Citizen To Get Involved And Take Risks In Ways That Really Make A Difference In The Lives Of Others.
Dr. Geneva is gifted in inspiring others. As a practitioner and scholar in public-private collaboration, her main strength, however, is in using collaboration to lead change and solve community problems.

Through her director’s role with Figure Skating in Detroit, she has forged a partnership with the Michigan Women’s Foundation and links Detroit girls with valuable community leadership and resources.

 

Dr. Williams Walks Her Talk. She Is Deeply Involved In Many Organizations Making A Difference
Whether it’s revolutionizing the way an organization does business, or inspiring individuals to lead with greater purpose, Dr. Geneva is committed to stimulating big thinking, while facilitating and delivering the tools needed to ignite unimaginable success.

Her career has lauded many awards for her work for including Bank of America’s Local Hero award; Ford Motor Company’s Heritage Award; and the National Association for Community Leadership’s Distinguished Leadership Award. She is among Detroit’s 100 Most Influential Women identified by Crain’s Detroit Business.

As a master leadership strategist, she works with GenX women entrepreneurs and nonprofit executives to provide proven strategies to be more influential at work, home, and in their community. She helps startups develop and mentors GenXers and Millennials to succeed in their careers and explore possibilities beyond the corporate world.

Dr. Williams walks her talk. She is deeply involved in many organizations making a difference including serving leadership and consultant roles for organizations including Western Michigan University, Detroit Public Schools, First Independence Bank, Kresge Foundation, The Links, Inc., and the NAACP.

It’s clear she was called to stand up, stand out—and lead!  She has engaged public and private partners in fundraising programs that brought more than $100 million in national and local money to Detroit’s youth, urban neighborhoods and working poor.

Her passion for facilitating exciting and life changing conversations that spark solutions to issues in the community, has led her to host the IGNITE 2 Impact podcast syndicated through iTunes. Her topics include her 4 Cs: communication, community, confidence and collaboration, and “getting and keeping it together” for today’s busy GenX and Millennial women.

With an innate gift of bringing together all kinds of working to establish an ‘all hands on deck’ strategy, she pushes the envelope to spark success of programs in the community. Currently Dr. Geneva is traveling the world facilitating workshops, speaking on panels and at conferences. Her focus is on community development and coalition building.

 

She Is The Leader’s Leader Encouraging Others To “Get Their Leadership On” To Learn Luminary Leadership Lessons And Make An Impact For Greater Purpose.
“My father’s example gave me a strong belief in reciprocity: that those who have received much in life should be willing to give back, and should do so with enthusiasm. Ultimately, the giver gets as many or more benefits than the receiver,” said Dr. Geneva Williams.

For Speaking Engagements, Workshops And Media Interview Requests contact Dr. Geneva J. Williams at her email: info@drgenevaspeaks.com

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Intimate Conversation with Michele Nicole Mitchell

Michele Nicole was born in Trinidad, West Indies and raised in Queens Village, NY. She left New York in 2001 to attend North Carolina Central University where she graduated. She stayed in North Carolina for eleven years and eventually relocated to Atlanta, GA to be closer to family. She is a servant leader, entrepreneur, photographer and traveler. She is also the author of the book Are You Done With Him?


BPM: Please share something our readers wouldn’t know about you.

I will start with my name. I am Michele Nicole Mitchell. I was born in Trinidad, West Indies. I came to the United State when I was about 7or 8 years old. My favorite thing to do is travel and I love to cook. I value gathering folks at my home once a quarter and having transparent conversations with women of different ages and experiences so we can eat, fellowship, pray, cry, laugh and pour into each other. My objective is to live for when I leave, so I pour out and that is the best receiving I can ever get.

I am a Believer, who was struggling with un-belief. Out of desperation I became bold enough to ask God to teach me to trust Him. What I did not prepare for was the process He would use to bring it to pass. Let me tell you something, when you ask God to teach you, you do NOT get to choose the HOW.

BPM: Tell us about your first published book. What was the journey like?
The first published book was a coming of age experience. It was about a one night stand that lasted for 3 years. I compromised my integrity and standards in the hopes of getting a man that was emotionally wounded, unavailable and chose not to commit to loving himself, to see my value, worth and love me. I discovered my sexual self at his expense and also discovered that you cannot heal someone who desires to stay broken. The journey was painfully therapeutic. It caused me to see and accept the part I played in my own demise.

BPM: Introduce us to your most recent work.  
My most recent work is entitled Stripped For Greater: Walk By Faith. It is a very transparent and honest book. I am a Believer, that was struggling with un-belief. Out of desperation I became bold enough to ask God to teach me to trust Him. What I did not prepare for was the process He would use to bring it to pass. This book shares with its readers the process and series of life events that occurred that taught me how to Trust God, even when I felt like I could not Trace God. I am working with my distributors to make the book available for electronic devices.

Watch the Stripped For Greater Video Book Trailer (The How) – https://youtu.be/Z3tdtcNpH7U


BPM: Can you share with us something about the book that isn’t in the blurb?

When you ask God to teach you to trust Him, you do NOT get to choose the HOW. As I began to learn to trust God during my season of un-belief, there were encounters with individuals that showed me how much He loved me and how far He would go to protect me. In my emotional state of “functioning broken”, He still used me to help others and meet their need at our point of meeting. My lack of trusting God and being a believer that was struggling with un-belief never stood in His way of taking care of me, it stood in my way of surrendering to Him.

BPM: Is writing easy for you? Do you feel lonely being a writer during the creative process?
Writing is not easy for me to do, but it is not difficult. What I mean by that is that for me writing is therapeutic and confrontational. I write from my perspective but as I write I am reminded that I am not the only one that was part of the event. That those who played their part in the event not only did I have an encounter with them but they had an encounter with me. As I mature as a writer I am understanding that there is more than one perspective and more than one experience. Being a writer that is learning the value of understanding that transparency changes lives, writing, just like God, causes me to stop looking out of a window and start looking into a mirror.

I do not feel lonely during the creative process but I do feel the weight of understanding that it is important to convey the moment in a simple relatable way so someone who reads it can honestly say “its not just me”.

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Raves and Reviews: Survival Math by Mitchell S. Jackson

Survival Math: Notes on an All-American Family by Mitchell S. Jackson

An electrifying, dazzlingly written reckoning and an essential addition to the national conversation about race and class, Survival Math takes its name from the calculations award-winning author Mitchell S. Jackson made to survive the Portland, Oregon of his youth.

This dynamic book explores gangs and guns, near-death experiences, sex work, masculinity, composite fathers, the concept of “hustle,” and the destructive power of addiction—all framed within the story of Jackson, his family, and his community. Lauded for its breathtaking pace, its tender portrayals, its stark candor, and its luminous style, Survival Math reveals on every page the searching intellect and originality of its author.

The primary narrative, focused on understanding the antecedents of Jackson’s family’s experience, is complemented by poems composed from historical American documents as well as survivor files, which feature photographs and riveting short narratives of several of Jackson’s male relatives.

The sum of Survival Math’s parts is a highly original whole, one that reflects on the exigencies—over generations—that have shaped the lives of so many disenfranchised Americans. As essential as it is beautiful, as real as it is artful, Mitchell S. Jackson’s nonfiction debut is a singular achievement, not to be missed.

 

 

Raves and Reviews

 

“[A] vibrant memoir of race, violence, family, and manhood…Jackson recognizes there is too much for one conventional form, and his various storytelling methods imbue the book with an unpredictable dexterity. It is sharp and unshrinking in depictions of his life, his relatives (blood kin and otherwise), and his Pacific Northwest hometown, which serves as both inescapable character and villain…It’s Jackson’s history, but it’s also a microcosm of too many black men struggling both against their worst instincts, and a society that often leaves them with too few alternatives…His virtuosic wail of a book reminds us that for a black person in America, it can never be that easy.”
—Boston Globe

 

““While never shirking from the various harms his family members inflict on themselves and each other, Jackson consistently writes about them, and truly all the people we encounter, from a place of grace…One of the book’s many treasures is Jackson’s attentiveness to providing historical context for the forces shaping his family and the place they call home…Jackson’s searing intelligence is on full display throughout the work, but it is particularly notable when he takes on the problems of gentrification, white supremacy, and corporations that gain their wealth off the bodies of the poor. Equally striking is the author’s unflinching commitment to turn his critical eye inward…a spellbinding narrative.”
—NPR.org

 

“A vulnerable, sobering look at Jackson’s life and beyond, in all its tragedies, burdens and faults…Jackson dissects the darker realities of his hometown [and] his explorations feel strikingly unguarded.”
—San Francisco Chronicle

 

“Exuberant maximalism is [Jackson’s] mode … The detours recall the hectic narrative nonfiction of the ’90s and early aughts, by writers like Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace.”
—The New York Times

 

“[Survival Math is] dense and rich, alternately blunt and tender, with references that run the gamut from Snoop Dogg to Adam Smith … in recalling his own struggle, what Jackson has created is a monument to the marginalized—and it’s every bit as harrowing and beautiful as its architect’s life.”
—Willamette Week

 

“In prose that is both poetic and brutally honest, Jackson [explores] his family’s story as a lens into the history of his community. Themes like fatherhood, addiction, sex work, national pride, prison, race and violence against women can feel broad and universal, and Jackson expertly grounds these experiences within America’s legacy, via the inclusion of thoroughly-researched historical and religious references. And yet Survival Math is also deeply personal…Jackson powerfully disrupts various binaries, showing how academic scholarship and accessible writing can merge, how empathy and accountability can overlap, how self and social critique are interconnected.”
—Salon.com

 

“Beyond his own past, Jackson juxtaposes his history with those of his male relatives to illustrate the hardships of class and race on a generational level, creating a timely narrative centered around what it takes to survive in America.”
—Time, 11 New Books to Read this March

 

“Jackson, the author of the novel The Residue Years, writes about his own childhood in Portland, Ore., and the entrenched racism and economic inequality that shaped his community. Along the way, he interweaves poems and narratives from members of his family. As Jackson puts it in his author’s note, “Our stories of survival are inseparable from the ever-fraught history of America.””
—New York Times, 12 New Books to Watch for in March

 

“Jackson revisits his early years in a black Portland neighborhood, telling the stories of his struggling family members and analyzing the marginalizing cultural forces around them.”
—Entertaintment Weekly, 20 new books to read in March

 

“Vivid and unflinching … Mitchell’s memoir in essays chronicles the struggles of friends and family with drugs, racism, violence, and hopelessness and puts a face on the cyclical nature of poverty.”
—Boston Globe, Most Anticipated Books of 2019

 

“An extensive and illuminating look at the city of [Jackson’s] childhood, exploring issues like sex, violence, addiction, community, and the toll this takes on a person’s life.
—Buzzfeed, Most Anticipated Books of 2019

 

“This is more than Jackson’s story, and as he traces his great-grandparents’ exodus from Alabama to Portland and the subsequent lives of his relatives…he captures the cyclical nature of poverty and neglect…The prose is a stunning mix of internal monologue and historical and religious references that he incorporates to tell his story…Thanks to Jackson’s fresh voice, this powerful autobiography shines an important light on the generational problems of America’s oft-forgotten urban communities.”
—Publishers Weekly, starred

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Survival Math: Notes on an All-American Family by Mitchell S. Jackson

Mitchell S. Jackson is the author of Survival Math. His debut novel The Residue Years was praised by publications, including The New York Times, The Paris Review, and The Times (London). The novel won the Ernest Gaines Prize for Literary Excellence, and it was also a finalist for the Center for Fiction’s Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize, the PEN/Hemingway Award for First Fiction, and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award. Jackson’s honors include fellowships from the Whiting Foundation, TED, the Lannan Foundation, the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, and the Center for Fiction. His writing has appeared in The New York Times Book Review, Salon, and Tin House, among other publications. He serves on the faculty at New York University and Columbia University.

Survival Math: Notes on an All-American Family by award-winning author Mitchell S. Jackson. Survival Math is about the calculations Mitchell made to survive his youth in 1990s Northeast Portland, and we wanted to reach out to you because it is absolutely perfect for book club discussion. The book explores difficult topics—addiction and gun play, masculinity and near-death experiences—all framed within the stories of the author and his family’s experiences in Portland. But of course, the book is about something much bigger than one family. Mitchell illuminates the forces that led his family and his community to this point, from the Great Migration to gentrification, and he does so with humor and style.

So far, the book has been praised by some of the most talented writers on the planet. Two-time National Book Award winner Jesmyn Ward called the book “virtuosic.” Author of Orange Is the New Black Piper Kerman says Survival Math is “an unforgettable mix of sharp humor, wide interrogation, and indelible tragedy.” Pulitzer Prize winning poet Terrance Hayes says Mitchell’s “insights into how black men survive become insights of everyone’s survival.”

 

 

Excerpt: Survival Math

Survival Math EXODUS

My exodus occurs after years wandering the wilderness of my hometown, the crucible that included working a part-time, and only-time, gig at the Oregonian’s downtown insert facility stacking pallet after pallet of inky-ass newspapers. For bread to live. For bread to leave. The day in question, I got a phone call from someone who, for the love (and just maybe his liberty), I’ll call Brother A. Brother A called me to plead a ride to his apartment in the burbs to sweep for dope after his dope-dealing roommate, a dude who’d already done a nickel in the pen on a drug charge (which, by the way, is not judgment, but context), had just got knocked by the Feds. Brother A explained he needed the ride because his main squeeze had wrecked his Jeep, and he couldn’t think of anyone more fitting than me, of all people on God’s verdant earth, me, to be the one to shuttle him.

Heeeeeelllll no! That should have been my answer. But that was not my answer. My answer tugged me out of my job at the end of my shift and into the forest-evergreen Lexus I’d bought in the bygone unblessed days when I sold more than weed. It sent me bolting out of my job and into my ride to swoop Brother A from someplace close and hit Highway 26 with most dubious sense.

Guessing now is as good a time as ever to mention that this was the age during which I might’ve been selling weed—twenty sacks, eighths, half and whole zips, and in the most blessed of times, half and whole pounds. Selling chronic, stacking newspapers, and throwing parties because evermore this brother, a brother, every brother should diversify his hustle. No mights or maybes to that.

Memories from that age, hypothetical and otherwise, seldom feature date stamps, but I can assure you this incident occurred May 2002 AD, which I know for truth because one of my homeboys and me had just thrown a well-attended Memorial Day shindig, and between my cut of the door and profits from the weed I may have been selling, I had a knot of bills in my inky work jeans—which accounts for why at the time I was feeling at least extra medium about myself. Brother A and I traded lightweight banter en route, and before I knew it, we’d reached his apartment complex, grounds of such expanse, there was plenty of time for my pulse to cease between the moment I pulled into the lot and when I found a place to park my tree-colored ride. Can’t speak for Brother A, but in that interstice of arriving and stepping a wary foot out of my ride, I had visions of police swarming us from bushes and vans, seizing discomfited me, slamming my cheek against unforgiving asphalt, and KABLOWING! on cuffs.

We did not—word to Yahweh—get ambushed that moment. We hustled past a passel of blithe youngsters and mounted a flight and a flight and a flight of stairs and stood at the threshold of his apartment door (my heart athunder) and asked each other again and for the last time if we should enter, which, inhale, of course we did.

Breathe. Breathe. Breathe.

No one was inside. Good sense says I should’ve left Brother A to brave his fate alone but instead I sat on the living room couch while he proceeded to sweep his roommate’s room and the hall closets and every place else he could think to look. He didn’t find any meth, but he did find cooking supplies and utensils, which he took straight to the kitchen to scrub and scour. Meanwhile, I sat on the living room couch doing my best impression of ecclesiastical calm.

“Man, I can’t believe we was so spooked,” I said.

“Yeah, we silly,” he said. “Like the police worried about us.”

He paused and motioned at me. “Shit, I almost forgot. Come check this out.” This is when Brother A led me to his bedroom, pulled a pound of weed from a stash spot, and flaunted a sample. “This some killer,” he said. “Smell it.” What may or may not have happened next now seems like an act of intercession bestowed by my great-grandmama or some other churchgoing kin. That act, amen, was using my shirt to grab the plastic bag and inspect a few fluffy, sticky, fragrant stems. I put the weed back and mentioned how fast it would sell and may or may not have asked him if he could cop for me.

He and I strolled back into the living room—me to the couch and Brother A back to washing possible evidence down the drain. Seconds later I heard footsteps on the stairs. PATTER, PATTER, PATTER! Heard them and said to myself, Here come those kids. PATTER, PATTER, PATTER, PATTER! Thought to myself, Wow, them some heavy-footed-ass kids. PATTER, PATTER, PATTER, PATTER, PATTER! Mused, Boy, there must be more kids than I thought. That’s when Brother A hustled over to the peephole, said, “Oh, shit! POLICE!” and broke for his bedroom.

Before I could move, a mob of police, sheriff, and DEA bum-rushed into Brother A’s crib. “Get on the ground! Get on the ground now! Keep your hands where we can see them! Get down! Get down!”

Oh. My. God! I thought, and dropped to my knees then prostrate.

Brother A darted into the living room and ranted, “Let me see your warrant. Let me see your warrant,” and in an instant, they spun him face to wall and cuffed him. One officer jerked me off the carpet and asked if I was carrying drugs, if I had anything in my pockets that might cut or poke him. No, I said. And he emptied my pockets, beheld my cell phone and pager and the knot of cash—most of which, let me remind you, I’d made from my Memorial Day shindig and some of which I may or may not have made from serving fat sacks of chronic. More officers appeared, one of them tugging a stout German shepherd. That same officer informed me that if the dog hit on anything from my pockets, he’d confiscate it. Read the rest of this entry »

 
 
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