by MG Hardie
4 out of 5 Stars
EveryDay Life, by MG Hardie, is a snapshot of African-Americana. This book can make you shudder because of its harshness and nod because of the universal truths. Many of the verbal exchanges between the characters are the same ones I experienced with the men I grew up around. I even had some of the conversations found in EveryDay Life with my college roommates — almost word for word. That’s how genuine the dialogue is in this book.
C and L are room mates. L was a promising star basketball player whose college hoop-dreams are cut short by a false conviction. L slowly grows to desire more from life than the everyday rut he and his friends are in. His desire for a better life includes the elevation of this three friends to not only a higher standard of existence but also more mature level of critical thinking.
C is lazy. He sleeps in late everyday, spends his waking hours smoking marijuana and has no qualms about receiving government aid for once being a Naval officer. C justifies it because it’s the path of least resistance. The crew is rounded out by E and B. E stays in a broke-down motor home in the vacant lot adjacent to L’s apartment. B is the youngest of the crew and drops by to check on his friends from time to time.
L and his comrades find solace from the stressors of their Long Beach, California, neighborhood in L’s one bedroom apartment. This is where they join in a cipher over blunts and Kool Aid. To the uninitiated, a cipher is a message written in a code. To be clear, a cipher is also a circle of discussion where each participant adds onto what it being discussed. Once you begin to understand the relationship between the men, you also begin to understand that they need each other. They are more of a family to each other than they are to their blood relatives. MG’s mastery of witticisms and reasonings, and will keep you entertained and deliberating at the same time.
Intertwined with the wisecracks is social anaylsis. The crew discuss diverse subjects that are common talking points within the African-American community. They cover interracial dating to the evolution of Hip Hop into Gangsta Rap to AIDS being manufactured to infect minorities and the poor and much more. Nothing is off-limits nor left unexplored. The duality of comedy and philosophy had me at times shaking my head in laughter and at other times nodding in contemplation.
I enjoyed reading EverDay Life because the characters melded social issues, conspiracy theories and verbal antics in a way that I could relate to growing up in predominately African-American neighborhoods in the 80s and 90s. Driven by an intense dialogue, EveryDay Life is an enriching read that is borderline controversial because of its bluntness. The only thing I had a hard time with was keeping up with who-was-who since all the characters had one-letter names.
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