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Knucklehead
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Published:
Akashic Books 2018
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Description
A black law student navigates the era of Rodney King and the Oklahoma City bombing—and his own anger issues—in this "mordantly funny" novel (San Francisco Chronicle).
Shortlisted for the Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence
In Knucklehead we meet Marcus Hayes, a black law student who struggles, sometimes unsuccessfully, with the impulse to respond to everyday bad behavior with swift and antisocial action. The cause of this impulse is unknown to him. When Marcus unexpectedly becomes involved with the brilliant, kind Amalia Stewart, her love and acceptance pacify his demons. But when his demons return, he is no longer inclined to contain them . . .
"By setting his novel in the '90s, Smyer, who lives in Oakland, has crafted some brutal deja vu. As Marcus reflects on Rodney King, the Million Man March and the Oklahoma City bombing, we think of Freddie Gray, Black Lives Matter and school shootings that have become a way of life. And when Marcus laments San Francisco's dwindling black population, here we are more than twenty years on, and it's only gotten worse. We should all be furious." —San Francisco Chronicle
"Here is a list of things you'll need to read this book: ample space for stretching out the side stitches you'll get from laughter; half a box of tissues for the most gripping and harrowing dramas at the heart of the novel; a fresh stress ball for the tense situations the protagonist finds himself in (both of his own doing and not); and just a bit of that space in your heart to see people, in all their complexity, trying to do their best." —Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
"Marcus Hayes careens through the racially divisive 1990s while trying to manage his compulsive anger, chaotic love life, and economic misfortunes . . . Smyer gives Marcus a sardonic and hilarious voice reminiscent of a Paul Beatty protagonist and endows him with a troubled psychology that plumbs the nuances of black male identity." —Kirkus Reviews
"While not strictly a crime novel, Smyer's debut Knucklehead does contain a whole lot of guns, violence, and rage, as well as plenty of love and sadness. A black lawyer in the late '80s through the mid-'90s deals with micro and macro aggressions from a society determined to treat him as a criminal. Also, there are cats. Lots of cats." —Literary Hub
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Format:
Adobe EPUB eBook, Kindle Book, OverDrive Read
Street Date:
01/22/2018
Language:
English
ISBN:
9781617756030
ASIN:
B071H4DVJN
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Citations
APA Citation (style guide)

Adam Smyer. (2018). Knucklehead. Akashic Books.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Adam Smyer. 2018. Knucklehead. Akashic Books.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Adam Smyer, Knucklehead. Akashic Books, 2018.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Adam Smyer. Knucklehead. Akashic Books, 2018. Web.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2010. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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c812fc25-6909-7d3a-1c64-0d19422f1b18
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Needs Update?:
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Date Added:
Jun 12, 2018 15:58:00
Date Updated:
Jun 03, 2021 21:07:46
Last Metadata Check:
Jul 25, 2021 07:16:19
Last Metadata Change:
Jun 17, 2021 21:48:38
Last Availability Check:
Jul 25, 2021 07:16:27
Last Availability Change:
Jun 15, 2021 17:22:52
Last Grouped Work Modification Time:
Jul 26, 2021 02:41:45

OverDrive Product Record

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        ADAM SMYER is an attorney, martial artist, and mediocre bass player. Adam's nonfiction has appeared in the Johannesburg Review of Books, and his debut novel, Knucklehead (Akashic Books), was the sole title short-listed for the 2018 Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence. Adam lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife and cats.

      • name: Adam Smyer
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shortDescription
A black law student navigates the era of Rodney King and the Oklahoma City bombing—and his own anger issues—in this "mordantly funny" novel (San Francisco Chronicle).
Shortlisted for the Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence
In Knucklehead we meet Marcus Hayes, a black law student who struggles, sometimes unsuccessfully, with the impulse to respond to everyday bad behavior with swift and antisocial action. The cause of this impulse is unknown to him. When Marcus unexpectedly becomes involved with the brilliant, kind Amalia Stewart, her love and acceptance pacify his demons. But when his demons return, he is no longer inclined to contain them . . .
"By setting his novel in the '90s, Smyer, who lives in Oakland, has crafted some brutal deja vu. As Marcus reflects on Rodney King, the Million Man March and the Oklahoma City bombing, we think of Freddie Gray, Black Lives Matter and school shootings that have become a way of...
isOwnedByCollections
True
title
Knucklehead
fullDescription
A black law student navigates the era of Rodney King and the Oklahoma City bombing—and his own anger issues—in this "mordantly funny" novel (San Francisco Chronicle).
Shortlisted for the Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence
In Knucklehead we meet Marcus Hayes, a black law student who struggles, sometimes unsuccessfully, with the impulse to respond to everyday bad behavior with swift and antisocial action. The cause of this impulse is unknown to him. When Marcus unexpectedly becomes involved with the brilliant, kind Amalia Stewart, her love and acceptance pacify his demons. But when his demons return, he is no longer inclined to contain them . . .
"By setting his novel in the '90s, Smyer, who lives in Oakland, has crafted some brutal deja vu. As Marcus reflects on Rodney King, the Million Man March and the Oklahoma City bombing, we think of Freddie Gray, Black Lives Matter and school shootings that have become a way of life. And when Marcus laments San Francisco's dwindling black population, here we are more than twenty years on, and it's only gotten worse. We should all be furious." —San Francisco Chronicle
"Here is a list of things you'll need to read this book: ample space for stretching out the side stitches you'll get from laughter; half a box of tissues for the most gripping and harrowing dramas at the heart of the novel; a fresh stress ball for the tense situations the protagonist finds himself in (both of his own doing and not); and just a bit of that space in your heart to see people, in all their complexity, trying to do their best." —Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
"Marcus Hayes careens through the racially divisive 1990s while trying to manage his compulsive anger, chaotic love life, and economic misfortunes . . . Smyer gives Marcus a sardonic and hilarious voice reminiscent of a Paul Beatty protagonist and endows him with a troubled psychology that plumbs the nuances of black male identity." —Kirkus Reviews
"While not strictly a crime novel, Smyer's debut Knucklehead does contain a whole lot of guns, violence, and rage, as well as plenty of love and sadness. A black lawyer in the late '80s through the mid-'90s deals with micro and macro aggressions from a society determined to treat him as a criminal. Also, there are cats. Lots of cats." —Literary Hub
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reviews
      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        January 1, 2018

        DEBUT Set in the 1990s in the politically and racially charged era of the Rodney King incident and the O.J. Simpson trial, this debut features young African American lawyer Marcus Hayes, whose opportunities for success are continually undercut by a propensity for wanting to punish bad behavior immediately with his own brand of social justice-a trait that marks him as the "knucklehead" of the title. While in law school at NYU, he meets the brilliant and attractive Amalia Stewart, who is able to curb his worst tendencies. Her death from cancer not long after they marry and move to the West Coast sends him on a downward spiral and back into his old ways. He eventually leaves his job at a San Francisco law firm and takes up with Sarah, a latter-day hippie with a volatile temper and a precarious lifestyle. Their tumultuous breakup, replete with smashed belongings and accusations of abuse, sends him into court as something other than counsel and into a hand-to-mouth life representing indigent clients. VERDICT Marcus is an intelligent, acerbic, and often hilarious narrator, bringing a fresh, biting perspective to the social and racial tensions of the time that, as debut novelist Symer makes clear, are not particularly different from today.--Lawrence Rungren, Andover, MA

        Copyright 2018 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        December 15, 2017
        In this comic debut novel, lawyer Marcus Hayes careens through the racially divisive 1990s while trying to manage his compulsive anger, chaotic love life, and economic misfortunes.Marcus, an upper-middle-class black man doing his best to navigate the vagaries of racial identity, is a talented and competitive law student at New York University with a chip on his shoulder. Too black for his white peers and too white for other African-Americans, he relies on swaggering machismo for emotional security, which in turn leads him to commit ridiculous acts of violence. When the novel opens, for example, he hits an annoying fellow bus rider in the neck with a collapsible baton he carries at all times. That aggression carries into his studies: motivated by the feeling that most of his fellow students think less of him, he gathers a few like-minded peers into a study group with plans to humiliate the rest of the class through his success. His plans for revenge are upended by the last person to join his study group. The beautiful Amalia Stewart demands that he reform his brutish ways. The two eventually get married and move to the Bay Area, where they lead a perfect life--until racial strife and Amalia's terminal illness disrupt Marcus' calm. Agitated by his wife's death and incidents like the Rodney King verdict, Marcus reverts to an even more acute machismo to discharge his restless aggression. He meets the alluring Sarah and actively seeks out opportunities to fight. His habit causes him to tumble down the economic ladder, only compounding his frustrations. Historic events like Yitzhak Rabin's assassination and the O.J. Simpson trial add color to what is otherwise an aimless narrative. Smyer gives Marcus a sardonic and hilarious voice reminiscent of a Paul Beatty protagonist and endows him with a troubled psychology that plumbs the nuances of black male identity. Unfortunately, it's not enough to obscure the fact that very little of interest happens in this novel.A funny but static novel about black masculinity.

        COPYRIGHT(2017) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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