I Live: A novel without heroes

I Live: A novel without heroes has the natural allure of sex, love and violence, as found in most mainstream urban fiction novels, but with a subtle twist.

The story begins with a young man in transition, both figuratively and literally, returning to his old neighborhood after spending several years in prison due to a questionable arrest.

Bitter from his experiences, he sees life as unfair and decides to create his own just reality.  He executes this plan by organizing a local group of miscreants into a “Robin Hood” criminal enterprise. During his adventures, he falls in love, starts a mini-revolution, and makes a few friends and enemies along the way.

The story ends as most antihero tales do—unexpectedly.

Written mostly in first person, this thought provoking and suspenseful journey allows the reader to grow with a charismatic protagonist.  Vivid descriptions and engaging dialogue whisk the reader into the mind of an intelligent outlaw experiencing the nuances of an unyielding and unjust city.

I Live packages the complex concepts of justice, ethics, religion, love, brotherhood and law and order into an entertaining action-drama.

About the author: I discovered my love for writing and a passion for urban culture in an Honors African American History class at Hampton University.  Since then, I co-founded Alumni Roundup, an umbrella of 17 social networks with over 250,000 members aimed at organizing and mobilizing the alumni of Historically Black Colleges and Universities. In September of 2010, I was featured in the 40th anniversary issue of Essence Magazine, as a contributor to the Love is in the Air series.

I wrote this novel because it’s a story that I would enjoy reading. It encompasses all that I’ve read and watched in my lifetime. It speaks to a group of people that is rarely reached and hard to define by design; the kind of people who like hip hop, blue grass and classical; people who have reality TV in the background while they study for law school; people who value cubism as much as street art; my kind of people.

This is my graffiti on the shelves of the Library of Congress. After reading “The Alchemist,” I asked myself, what is my personal legend? I shrugged and let a few moments of self-loathing pass before writing with fervor. What was once a few lines here and there became whole days dedicated to writing.  I hope that I’ve made you, Paulo Coelho and Banksy proud.
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With so many of our children caught up in the “Prison Mentality” this book is real talk. I gave this it a 5 because it is told with such brutal honesty. – Marilyn Diamond, AAMBC Reviewer

Discussion Questions

1. Chapter 1 – Marcus says that his mother is “not really happy… She’s just not unhappy.” What about you? Are you really happy or just not unhappy at this point in your life?

2. One of the male characters describes four types of women:

a. Lionesses – Good friends … like sisters

b. Hyenas – Lesbians … competition for women

c. Wildebeests – Women who are readily available, quickly consumed and forgotten

d. Gazelles – Women who are graceful, beautiful, and almost impossible to catch… These women are the ultimate ‘prize.’

Do you think this list is accurate? Would you add any additional types or labels to this list?

3. Chapter 5 – How do you feel about Marcus’ view of Martin Luther King, Jr. as a “sellout… who fought for assimilation” which Marcus feels may be a contributing factor in the deterioration of the “sense of culture, values, self-worth and history” of African-American people in this country?

4. Chapter 8 – Marcus finally tells Sarah about his criminal dealings, and she says, “God will judge your actions and intentions.” Have you ever knowingly been in a romantic relationship with someone engaged in illegal activity? Did it bother you? How did you handle it?

5. Chapter 9 – Marcus says, “Religion is a science for people who do not understand logic.” What say you?

6. Chapter 12 – As the book winds down, Marcus visits his mother in the hospital before make his planned escape out of town. Would you have risked making the visit to the hospital, knowing that law enforcement was looking for you? Is Marcus just a “momma’s boy” who has to see his mother one more time before he leaves, or is he oozing machismo and trying to make a statement to the police with this risky move to the hospital?

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Questions courtesy of the Ultimate Sister United Book Club