Boys to Men

GregAlan Williams, Author, Gregory Alan-Williams, Author
GregAlan Williams, Author, Gregory Alan-Williams, Author Doubleday Books $18.95 (224p) ISBN 978-0-385-48687-3
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Williams, a former actor on Baywatch and author of a memoir of the Los Angeles riots (A Gathering of Heroes), has trodden a hard road to maturity, and in this collection of inspirational essays, he attempts to pass on lessons learned. Growing up fatherless in Des Moines, the author thought ""a man's worth was measured primarily in relation to women, wealth, and war."" Drinking and drugs, he adds, helped him ignore the challenge of trying to be his best, and he initially ignored the son he fathered. But Williams found what he calls Good Orderly Direction (G.O.D.) from many sources: religion, friends, nature. Now he emphasizes education and service. As an African American, Williams offers a special message to black youths concerned that there may be only one way to be authentically black, who grow up in a rap-infused culture that denigrates women and who may reflexively blame racism for more complicated problems. However, his earnest wisdom can devolve into cliches and his anecdotes meander. His book reads like transcribed speeches, and Williams, a public speaker, likely best delivers his message in person. (Feb.)
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