Jackie is a poor boy from Harlem and the victim of abuse from his widowed, alcoholic father. But everything changes on the day he discovers the power of comedy. When his classmates make fun of his tattered clothes, Jackie turns everything around by freely poking fun at himself and soon has everyone on the floor with laughter. His amazing talent, and raging ambition, take him through the local club circuit to become the most sought after comedic entertainer in opulent, '50s Las Vegas and beyond.
Unusual and compelling, this is a rags-to-riches tale of a black man searching for respect in a golden age of American entertainment. Masterfully performed by narrator Dion Graham, A Conversation with the Mann is a dazzling listen.
©2002 John Ridley; (P)2003 Recorded Books, LLC
"Affecting and provocative." (Publishers Weekly)
"This fascinating book serves as a history of standup comedy, a refresher on the struggle for civil rights, and a primer on duty to self and society. It's also a cracking good read." (Booklist)
"Smart and edgy and moving." (The New York Times Book Review)
At some point, writing becomes literature. It becomes art. At some point, narration becomes performance art. John Ridley is a brilliant writer, and Dion Graham does more than read; he performs this work, giving voice to the characters and bringing them to life. For those of us old enough to have lived through this era, and young enough to remember it, this is a story that sounds as real as the time. And if the characters and coolness of that era seem dated and even ridiculous, the sad fact is that this was an era in which cultural, collective delusion made it seem far better than it was. Reality happened in grainy black and white, except to those who saw it up close. Most of us didn?t. Mr. Ridley weaves a story of human error, weakness, loyalty, and strength through the events, and with the people, that made the time.
This is simply a brilliant novel. I couldn't stop listening to it. It evokes so many different emotions, from anger, to laughter, from sadness, to deep introspection. It will cause you to think about life, and what's really important.
This was my first audiobook and I absolutely loved it! The narrator easily got me involved with all the characters and the storyline was very unique, creative and entertaining.
Sometimes a novel comes along that seems so real, so full of life, that the reader is certain it must be a biography, the hero must have lived. This is the case with A Conversation With The Mann. In a world alien to most of us, John Ridley has created a story that speaks to each of us, no matter our station in life. Jackie Mann is as real as I am. No greater compliment can be paid an author.
This book saddened me. Although I kept hoping that Jackie Mann would do the right thing, the terrible beast of racism took away Jackie's rational thought process. The roots of racism, overt racisim, and normal everyday challenges caused Jackie Mann to make some wrong choices, not because he did not know how to do the right thing but because he was afraid. When his fear lead him to compromise his values, he began to hate himself. When those close to Jackie were willing to forgive him, his self-hatred prevented him from reaching out. This book, although brilliantly written, saddened me because Blacks and other racial minorities frequently go through self-hatred which causes them to make bad choices. The storyline held my interest and the ending was realistic.
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