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“A vibrant memoir of race, violence, family, and manhood…a virtuosic wail of a book” (The Boston Globe), Survival Math calculates how award-winning author Mitchell S. Jackson survived the Portland, Oregon, of his youth.
This “spellbinding” (NPR) book explores gangs and guns, near-death experiences, sex work, masculinity, composite fathers, the concept of “hustle,” and the destructive power of addiction—all framed within the story of Mitchell Jackson, his family, and his community. Lauded for its breathtaking pace, its tender portrayals, its stark candor, and its luminous style, Survival Math reveals on every page the searching intellect and originality of its author. The primary narrative, focused on understanding the antecedents of Jackson’s family’s experience, is complemented by survivor files, which feature photographs and riveting short narratives of several of Jackson’s male relatives.
“A vulnerable, sobering look at Jackson’s life and beyond, in all its tragedies, burdens, and faults” (San Francisco Chronicle), the sum of Survival Math’s parts is a highly original whole, one that reflects on the exigencies—over generations—that have shaped the lives of so many disenfranchised Americans. “Both poetic and brutally honest” (Salon), Mitchell S. Jackson’s nonfiction debut is as essential as it is beautiful, as real as it is artful, a singular achievement, not to be missed.