Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Book Review: In the Crazy House Called America

Marvin X Offers A Healing Peek Into His Psyche
Junious Ricardo Stanton

Rarely is a brother secure and honest enough with himself to reveal his
innermost thoughts, emotions or his most hellacious life experiences. For
most men it would be a monumental feat just to share/bare his soul with his
closest friends but to do so to perfect strangers would be unthinkable,
unless he had gone through the fires of life and emerged free of the dross
that tarnishes his soul. Marvin X, poet, playwright, author and essayist
does just that in a self-published book entitled In The Crazy House Called
America. This latest piece from Marvin X offers a peek into his soul and his
psyche. He lets the reader know he is hip to the rabid oppression the West
heaps upon people of color especially North American Africans while at the
same ! time revealing the knowledge gleaned from his days as a student
radical, black nationalist revolutionary forger of the Black Arts Movement,
husband, father lover, a dogger of women did not spare him the degradation
and agony of descending into the abyss of crack addiction, abusive and toxic
relationships and family tragedy. Perhaps because of the knowledge gained
as a member of the Nation of Islam, and his experiences as one of the prime
movers of the cultural revolution of the '60, the insights he shares In The
Crazy House Called America are all the keener. Marvin writes candidly of his
pain, bewilderment and depression of losing his son to suicide. He shares in
a very powerful way, his own out of body helplessness as he wallowed in the
dregs of an addiction that threatened to destroy his soul and the mess his
addictions made of his life and relationships with those he loved. But he is
not preachy and this is not an autobiography.! He has already been there and
done that. In sharing his story and the wisdom he has gleaned from his life
experiences and looking at the world through the eyes of an artist/healer,
Marvin X serves as a modern day shaman/juju man who in order to heal himself
and his people ventures into the spirit realm to confront the soul devouring
demons and mind pulverizing dragons; he is temporarily possessed by them,
heroically struggles to rebuke their power before they destroy him; which
enables him to return to this realm, tell us what it is like, prove
redemption is possible, thereby empowering himself/ us and helping to heal
us. He touches on a myriad of topics as he raps and writes about himself and
current events. Reading this book you know he knows what it is like to
come face to face with and do battle with the insanity and death this
society has in store for all Africans.
Marvin X talks about his sexual relations/dysfunction,! drugs, media and
free speech, sports, black political power or the lack thereof, the war on
drugs and the current War on Terrorism, nothing is off limits. He includes
reviews of music, theater as well as film, but not as some smarter/ holier
than thou, elitist observer. Marvin X writes as one actively engaged in
life, including its pain and suffering. He lets us know he was a willing and
active participant in his addiction, how it impacted his decision making,
his role as a parent, his male-female "relationships", his ability to be
creative within a movement to liberate African people and the world from the
corruption of Caucasian hegemony. Marvin X is in recovery and it has not
been easy for him. As a writer/healer he still has the voice of a
revolutionary poet/playwright, it is a voice we need to listen and pay
attention to. He has survived his own purgatory and emerged stronger and
more committed to life and saving his people. As North American Africans
his term to differentiate us from our continental and diasporic brethren)
he sees the toll the insanity of this culture takes on us. His culturally
induced self-destructive lifestyle choices and the death of his son is a
testament to how life threatening and lethal this society can be. But Marvin
X also talks about spiritual redemption, the ability to transcend even the
most horrific experiences with resiliency and determination so that one gets
a glimpse of one's own divine potential. This book is an easy read which
makes it all the more profound. In The Crazy House Called America is for
brothers especially. It is a book all black men should grab hold of and
digest, if for no other reason than to experience just how redemptively
healing and liberating being honest can be.
In the Crazy House Called America is available from Black Bird Press, 11132 Nelson Bar Road, Cherokee, CA 95965, $19.95. Contact Marvin X at: mrvnx@yahoo.com.

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