Parallel Time is an evocative memoir that poses universal questions: Where does the family end and the self begin? What do we owe our families, and what do we owe our dreams for ourselves? What part of the past is a gift and what part a shackle? For Brent Staples there is the added dimension of race: moving from a black world into one largely defined by whites.
The oldest song among nine children, Brent grew up in a small industrial town near Philadelphia. First a scholarship to a local college and then one for graduate study at the University of Chicago pulled him out of the close family circle. While he was away, the industries that supported the town failed, and drug dealing rushed in to fill the economic void.
News of arrests and premature deaths among Brent’s childhood friends underscored the precariousness of his perch in a world of mostly white achievers. A younger brother became a cocaine dealer and was murdered by one of his “clients.” His death propelled Brent into a reconsideration of his childhood and coming-of-age that offers vivid portraits of family and place, of values that supported and pressures that tore apart, of the appeal and pain of entering a predominantly white world, and of the strengths and vulnerabilities of the black world he grew away from.
About Brent Staples
BRENT STAPLES received a Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Chicago. Currently a member of the editorial board of the New York Times, he has been an assistant metropolitan editor of the Times, an editor of the New York… More about Brent Staples