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Clif's Book World

Adventures from reading books captured within short reviews.

Kasher in the Rye: The True Tale of a White Boy from Oakland Who Became a Drug Addict, Criminal, Mental Patient, and Then Turned 16 (Audio) - Moshe Kasher The subtitle of this book pretty well describes what it’s about, so there’s no need for me to repeat it here. The question I kept asking myself while listening to the audio of this book was, “Will this foster within me a sense of empathy for the young graffiti artists, vandals and wearers of low baggy pants who roam my neighborhood? The answer is, “Not much.” But it does remind me that it’s always possible that those sorts of young people can grow up to be something other than a criminal. Perhaps a small possibility, but anything is possible.

This book is a memoir of a man named Moshe Kasher who as a kid did many disgusting things including stealing from this mother and grandmother, marking graffiti on wall of his family’s house, being too lazy to walk down the hallway to pee, repeatedly flunking out of schools, etc. I kept imagining how bad I would feel if I had a son who was this screwed up. One has to wonder how much of this sort of behavior is caused by genes and how much environment? The author had an older brother who was a model student and earned an academic scholarship to college, so the environment couldn’t have been too bad.

As miserable as this may sound, the audio version of this book was surprisingly entertaining to listen to. The author is a standup comedian, and he is also the reader for the audio version of the book. He includes all the comic timing, pauses and voice impersonations that one can expect from a successful comic. So while I kept shaking my head in disbelief at the awful lows he sank to as a juvenile dope addict, I also was laughing at the way it was being described.

But as one can expect from most popular comedians, the language gets a bit raunchy. There’s no bleeping of the unmentionable words so I don’t recommend this book for readers with sensitive feelings. But if you can go with the flow the book is very entertaining.

Of course, one of the reasons that the book is tolerable is the fact that the reader knows that the author lived to adulthood because he wrote the book (and recorded the audio of it). But in the epilogue he reviews what happened to many of his friends from this era of his life, and it’s not a happy end in many cases. It’s clear that if he had not managed to “make a right turn in his life,” he was headed for a life of crime and/or early death.

For a father's perspective dealing with a son addicted to drugs, I recommend [b:Beautiful Boy A Father's Journey Through His Son's Addiction|180066|Beautiful Boy A Father's Journey Through His Son's Addiction|David Sheff|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1347962939s/180066.jpg|3099735].