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Listening to “Long Way Down”

There’s such a rough poetry to this story, a rhythm that carries the shaking, emotionally charged and physically unsteady words that I’m not sure would have been as captivating had I not listened to the author read it himself.

It needs to be performed and witnessed to be experienced, and Reynolds acknowledges as much in the interview that follows the audiobook edition as he explains why he wrote it as he did.

There is a universe of all the unwritten backstory that populates the neighborhood surrounding this short novel, that surrounds the elevator Will rides as the ghosts of his life; his father, uncle, friends—one by one enter and tell their story, their stories, the stories that are all connected, linked together like chains around the living left behind that drag Will down.

These stories piece together the reality that their violence obscured, and Will begins to understand how the rules he has lived by, that his world is governed by serve only to keep them all locked in an unending cycle of ignorance and violence.

This brought to mind several things I’ve read recently, and quickly, for subject and style this should be read with:

📙Walter Dean Myers’ “Monster”

📕Angie Thomas’ “The Hate U Give”

📘Kwame Alexander’s “Swing”

📙Elizabeth Acevedo’s “The Poet X”

📕John Edgar Wideman’s “Brothers and Keepers”

📘James Baldwin’s “If Beale Street Could Talk”

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