Friday, August 1, 2008


Weighing in at 95 pages and typeset in what appears to be 14-pt Times New Roman, Alive by Jeffrey Murray (Trafford 2007) follows the efforts of a young African-American male to “understand blacks, whites, the whole universe, and how it is designed to intricately work together.” Early in the purportedly true story, Murray-as-first-person-narrator writes, “Thursday, twenty years ago, a rage of pure hell was ignited within my mental capacity from racial broadcastings of black people struggles in America.” As the book progresses, Murray takes the reader through a number of racially-charged incidents that helped to shape his attitudes toward race, life, and the universe: moving from school to school, interracial romance, violence, bigotry, the death of a family member, and a personal near-death experience. Throughout this very short memoir, Murray punctuates his life-story with footnotes explaining the greater significance of each incident. This strategy produces an interesting result: two narratives running almost simultaneously, one depicting events in the narrator’s external life, and the other charting his emotional and intellectual growth. Overall, Alive is a quick read that offers an interesting and personal glimpse into the mind of a young man coming of age while exploring the significance of race in America.

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