Book Review: Grace After Midnight: A Memoir
Publication Date: Nov 01, 2007
List Price: $22.00
Format: Hardcover, 240 pages
Imprint: Grand Central Publishing
Publisher: Hachette Book Group
Parent Company: Lagardère Group
Book Reviewed by Troy Johnson
This Review Appears in the Fall 2007 Issue of Harlem World Magazine
Fans of the Wire will recognize the strong Baltimore accent and confident swagger which personifies ’Snoop’s’ character on the HBO hit TV series. Pearson’s portrayal, erringly realistic, is no accident, or the product of acting school; but the result of living the life portrayed in the HBO Drama.
Told in a series of short, accessible, chapters, we are led by the hand through Pearson’s rough and tumble life: absent biological parents, homosexuality, manslaughter, drug dealing it is all laid out for all to see in plain unassuming language.
The most remarkable part of this story is Pearson’s encounter with of grace. Grace is how Pearson made the transition from ex-con drug dealer to TV star. Her ability to recognize and ultimately accept grace, is a lesson from which we can all benefit.
Published by Grand Central Publishing (Nov. 1st 2007), Grace After
Midnight is a highly recommended read ’ especially for The Wire
Grace After Midnight is also Review by Kam Williams
"I’m not making excuses, and I’m not feeling sorry for myself. don't expect you to feel sorry for me either. Just want to tell my story while it’s fresh.
Just want to make sure other people know my story, especially the kids on the streets and the kids working the corners. Just want to let them know that you can get over without killing people and selling packs.
I did all that. Fact is, I was still doing it up till a couple of years ago. Then something happened. This book is about what happened."
’Excerpted from the Preface (pg. 1)
What is it about the Baltimore prisons that has it turning murderers into movie stars? First, Charles S. Dutton, convicted of stabbing a dude to death during a street fight, took up acting while behind bars before embarking on an enviable career during which he’s won three Emmys and an NAACP Image Awards thusfar. Now we have the equally-promising Felicia Pearson playing Snoop on HBO’s "The Wire" after serving just six years for shooting 15 year-old Kia Toomer in the back.
Because Felicia was just 14 herself at the time of the slaying, the State of Maryland was not about to lock her up and throw away the key.
In Grace After Midnight, the presumably rehabilitated ex-con recounts her perilous path from the ghetto to the penitentiary to being granted a new lease on life by the producers of the Baltimore-based television series.
The as-told-to memoir was ghostwritten by the very prolific David Ritz, whose impressive resume’ reveals that he has previously collaborated on autobiographies with everyone from Tavis Smiley to Ray Charles to Sinbad to Aretha to B.B. King to Don Rickles to the Neville Brothers to Robert Guillaume to Grandmaster Flash to Smokey Robinson to Gary Sheffield to Laila Ali. Ritz is also a Grammy Award-winner and co-composer of Marvin Gaye’s "Sexual Healing."
Judging by the convincing narrative coursing through Grace After Midnight, it is apparent that Mr. Ritz has a knack for assisting any celeb in turning a rags-to-riches tale into a riveting tome without losing any of the flava which might make it sound legit. Felicia’s hardships were particularly challenging to overcome, given that she was born premature to a singe-mom crackhead.
Despite being raised by doting foster parents, her future was all but gobbled up by a tough neighborhood where she was hardened by all the teasing she took for being an adopted, cross-eyed tomboy. So, by the time she was twelve, she already owned a gun and was ready to use it on anybody who rubbed her the wrong way.
After killing Kia, Felicia was convicted of 2nd degree murder and sent up the river, where she started a thriving black market business in dildos. Meanwhile, she blossomed as a lesbian, and entered a monogamous relationship with a correctional officer. But that liaison didn't survive her parole, primarily because her lover suddenly became very possessive.
Without direction or a family to ground her, Felicia returned to the streets where she supported herself by dealing drugs. Only near the close of this raw memoir, does she describe the occasion on which she was spotted at a nightclub by Michael K. Williams, co-star of "The Wire."
Next thing you know, Felicia’s added to the ensemble cast and waxing euphoric about her new showbiz career, her sordid past ostensibly behind her for good. The End. Undeniably an entertaining read, but excuse me for still feeling a little cheated by a preface which had promised, "This book is about what happened" after she landed the acting gig.
’Little Melvin’ Williams, the
inspiration for the fantastically popular HBO television series
The Wire, served 26.5 years in prison. Williams
also has a recurring role on the HBO series, playing the
Williams is also the subject of an episode (2007) of BET’s American Gangster: http://www.bet.com/OnTV/BETShows/americangangster/ontv_americangangster_melvinwilliams.htm