Sunday, November 4, 2007

Grace After Midnight

A Memoir
by Felicia “Snoop” Pearson
with David Ritz
Grand Central Publishing
Hardcover, $22.00
240 pages
ISBN: 978-0-446-19518-9

Book 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.

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