BOOK REVIEW: All Joe Knight | Kevin Morris | Grove Atlantic Press

9780802125781- all joe knight-kevin morris
All Joe Knight by Kevin Morris
Grove Atlantic Press, December  2016
ISBN 978080212578, Fiction

I am Joe, sometimes Joey. Ordinary Joe. Average Joe. Joe Blow. Joseph Michael Knight, Jr. Joe Knight. All night long. All Knight Long. All Knight.

1961. Outside Philadelphia, a soon-to-be father runs into a telephone pole while driving drunk; nine months later, his widow dies in a smashed-up T-Bird. From the start, the orphaned Joe Knight is a blank slate. Taken in by a kindly aunt in a tough-skinned suburb, Joe finds his family in high school with the Fallcrest basketball team—the kind of team that comes around once in a lifetime. All these kids want is to make it to the Palestra, UPenn’s cathedral of college basketball.

Fast forward thirty years. Joe is newly divorced with one daughter and certain he is unfit for love. Ever since he sold the ad firm that he built from the ground up for millions of dollars, he spends his time at a local business school or going to strip clubs, the only place it seems he can quiet his mind. A former Fallcrest teammate, Chris Scully, who is now district attorney advises Joe of a Justice Department investigation into the deal that made Joe rich years ago. The deal that Joe brought all of his former Fallcrest basketball teammates in on, except for Scully. Details emerge about Joe’s alleged wrongdoing, forcing Joe to come to term with the secret that has tormented him for decades.

Excerpt from ALL JOE KNIGHT by Kevin Morris:

Truth is I’ve made enough money and cut off enough strings that I don’t have to do anything and I like it. Coming up the way I did, from where I did, I am not burdened by a sense of sympathy or the guilt of a free pass. Truth is the math is simple: I don’t care enough about changing the general state of things to do anything. If you tuck enough away and are just carrying yourself, there is really not much anyone can do to you, especially if you are not pushing into anyone else’s world. That’s the great thing about America—the freedom to succeed and the freedom to be let alone once you do.

I think about kids once in a while, like who is the kid out there who is me, just forty years later. That passes unanswered. My own kid, she’ll be okay, I have her fixed up, and she doesn’t really want much from me anyway. Truth is there’s nothing about the status quo that on balance makes me want to do anything differently than live life in this nice-ass apartment, above what’s left of the greene country towne that will never be burnt, always wholesome. Truth is I have ridden a wave generated by a miracle wind-machine born in this brick city five lifetimes ago. All this freedom. Truth is I will probably die like this, another American man who got what he wanted.

Kevin  Morris is the author of the acclaimed story collection White Man’s Problems. He previously wrote for Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, and Filmmaker magazine, produced the well-regarded documentary Hands on a Hardbody and was co-producer of  The Book of Mormon, a Tony Award winning play.

Diverse Book Recommendations for Children

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I am pleased and grateful to have the opportunity to promote We’re The People – a blog devoted to diversity in children’s and young adult reading material and Full Circle Literary – “a literary agency, representing children’s books from toddler to teen, and more!” Both We’re The People and Full Circle Literary are stupendous finds that I proudly recommend to you.

We’re The People is an amazing blog that I randomly happened upon and have returned to several times to find new recommendations for books to purchase and read to my 2-1/2 year-old niece. I am at a loss for words to properly describe all the feels that came over me when I first encountered We’re The People – sheer joy, yes, but also an ache in my heart that actually hurt and brought tears to my eyes. With today’s plethora of blogs concentrating on book reviews and recommendations, the lack of diversity in the books that children are exposed to and offered in bookstores, libraries and their schools is a glaringly obvious truth. I am astonished that book publishers and my fellow #wordnerds do not more frequently, loudly, and publicly acknowledge and/or address this issue.  We are failing all of our children and must work to do better.

The world we live in it anything but white or colorless – it is a smorgasbord of colors, in every imaginable hue, spanning the entire intensity and saturation gamut visible to the human eye. It is in the diversity of humans that our greatest strength and beauty lies. And yet, we provide no such written word color-wheel to our children. Not only does this greatly and negatively affect the self-image of millions of non-white children who do not see themselves as possible characters in the stories, it also reduces the ability of white children to envision the non-white children in such stories. Neither set of children grow up appreciating the beauty and wonder of the other, and, in fact, seeds of discomfort, fear, and uncertainty of the “other” are deeply planted into their hearts and minds.

I still live close to the uniquely diverse neighborhood in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where I was born and raised.  I was a Catholic, white girl from a middle-class, single father home who spent the greater part of my first 10 years in and around the home of my babysitter, a Baptist, African-American grandmother.  On any given day, Ms. Bessie nurtured, disciplined and loved a group of kids of both races and religions.  She, and by default, we, never shied away from noting our differences – they were acknowledged, praised and accepted as just one of the many parts that made each of us who we were.  All of us were given a true gift and we grew up not only tolerating, but sincerely loving, the “other.” Most of us remain close in our adult lives and our children know and care about one another as well.  We were raised together and saw our futures together.

2016 Summer Reading List — We’re The People

Please note that most of the book covers and illustrations found herein were taken from the Full Circle Literary blog.  

A Totally Unauthorized Reading Group Guide to ‘What Happened to Sophie Wilder’: 10 Discussion Questions for Book Clubs and Others

Source: A Totally Unauthorized Reading Group Guide to ‘What Happened to Sophie Wilder’: 10 Discussion Questions for Book Clubs and Others

Book review: All The Dead Voices by Declan Hughes

Book review: All The Dead Voices by Declan Hughes

Many years ago, I was introduced to Ed Hoy in Declan Hughes’ debut novel “The Wrong Color of Blood”. Hoy immediately became one of my favorite male protagonists in the thriller genre. Hoy is a fallible man with a strong moral compass who has friends on both sides of the law. Although he may not agree with the actions or the mindset of the criminal syndicates that were spawned from The Troubles,…

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Book review: All The Dead Voices by Declan Hughes

Many years ago, I was introduced to Ed Hoy in Declan Hughes’ debut novel “The Wrong Color of Blood”. Hoy immediately became one of my favorite male protagonists in the thriller genre. Hoy is a fallible man with a strong moral compass who has friends on both sides of the law. Although he may not agree with the actions or the mindset of the criminal syndicates that were spawned from The Troubles, he has a deep understanding of the reasons for and against the IRA (Catholic paramilitary group that waged war against the ruling Protestant British establishment for religious and socio-economic reasons; renowned for being one of the forerunners of domestic terrorism). Hughes’ Ed Hoy novels are set in modern day Ireland and America and superbly capture a sense of both locations. The older you become, the more you understand how little life is black and white, and Hoy navigates life intent on living as honorably as possible in the grey.

In “All The Dead Voices”, Hoy, a private detective, is working two separate cases that are linked by strands of violence resulting from the days of and just after The Troubles. Hoy is tasked by a daughter, Anne, with looking into the long ago murder of her father, Brian Fogarty, a tax collector who was investigating three known criminals at the time of his death, and whose wife was having an affair with the man convicted of his murder. A conviction that was later overturned on appeal. A man whom the daughter, Anne, does not believe is guilty. In addition, Hoy is also looking into the murder Paul Delaney, a rising football star who may have been dealing heroin for one of the three men that Fogarty was investigating at the time of his death. The initial request of Paul’s two older half-brothers, Dessie and Liam, was for Hoy to check in with Paul and report back. Hoy has a history with Dessie Delaney – he saved his life by getting Dessie off drugs and getting him to go to Greece to live with Liam. Paul was murdered on Hoy’s watch or at least that’s how Hoy views it. Because of the deep entrenchment of drug culture and related turf wars, both of these crimes involve similar players.

A surprise resolution of the murder of the tax man, along with the most fitting end to the mystery of who orchestrated young Paul’s death, and the reasons why both deaths happened earn a 4 star recommendation.Hughes is not only an excellent writer, but he excels at weaving a suspenseful & intelligent story that pulls you in from the start and holds you there to resolution. The combination of historical facts and fictional storylines result in novels that are deeply enjoyable as well as informative. A surprise resolution of the murder of the tax man, along with the most fitting end to the mystery of who orchestrated young Paul’s death, and the reasons why both deaths happened earn a 4 star recommendation.

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