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Barry Beckham

barry @ beckhamhouse . com
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Profile created April 2, 2008
  • Will You Be Mine? (2006)
    In his first novel in 20 years, critically acclaimed African-American writer Barry Beckham set out to write a love novel that would sparkle with erotic fire and passion. He wanted to endow the 50-year-old main character of Will You Be Mine? with tender, passionate sentiments as he searches for his soul mate.

    But the unnamed main character is a black male, and his quest for his earth angel gets tangled up with what Beckham sees as a world pretty much hostile to the black man’s survival. How can you pursue successfully a loving relationship when the society seems to be focused on annihilating you?

    There are no simple answers. And this is no simple novel. What begins as a narrative about a 50-year-old African-American photographer describing how he finally finds his soul mate merges into something else. It’s another rumination on the complex position of the black man who treads on various landscapes—a theme that infuses all of Barry Beckham’s novels. But in Will You Be Mine? the stakes are higher than ever. The very nature of the republic itself suddenly becomes a theme that explodes unexpectedly out of the narrative that started out exploring the spirit of romantic love.

    And like each of his book-length creative works, this novel is a result of a masterful control and exploration of fictional form. Each of Beckham’s books stretches the form—thematically, stylistically, and structurally—moving it beyond the norms of realism and the boundaries of common points of view.

    Like many modernist writers, he portrays a world that is filled with absurdity. And who is more bizarre and out of place in today’s society than the black man? Stylistically, for Beckham the modernist, our fleeting thoughts, dreams, and remembrances of things past are all fertile opportunities for creative development. Puns, allusions, metaphor, poetic passages and other stylistic devices demonstrate his commitment to language. And his characters stand out because of their memorable idiosyncrasies—comic, positive and negative.

    In the world of Will You Be Mine?, we encounter a college basketball player revered because he never makes a shot. In college, the narrator discovers, each time that he appears at a girl’s dormitory for a date, that the coed no longer lives there. The narrator’s baby son disappears after crawling back into history. Employed as a photographer at a major news magazine, he never sees any of his photos published. His father-in-law is swept up by a tornado and thrown into a black sky to vanish. The narrator’s name? We never learn. How do we follow the story line? He is talking to his Teddy bear.

  • Double Dunk: The Story Earl "The Goat" Manigault (1981)
    Earl "The Goat" Manigault had what it takes to become a superstar: incredible leaping ability, great timing, and unstoppable moves. He set a New York City junior high school record by scoring 52 points in one game. In high school and on the playgrounds of Harlem, he astonished opponents with his acrobatic shots, including the patented double dunk. Although seventy-two colleges offered him scholarships, lack of discipline and bad breaks sent Manigault stumbling into a world of heroin addiction and petty crimes for three years.

  • Runner Mack (1972)
    Runner Mack is the compelling story of young Henry Adams' road to self-discovery through his encounter and friendship with Runner Mack, a self-styled black militant. Rich with metaphor and symbolism, the novel portrays the "grand old game" of baseball as the symbol of America--for whites, a sanctuary where the American dream is a reality, for blacks, a nightmarish world filled with pain, chaos, and frustration.

  • My Main Mother (1969)
    My Main Mother is a novel about growing up. Without a father. With a mother who is beautiful, promiscuous, avidly ambitious. In a small town in Maine. In the human jungle of New York. Growing up defiant and scared, happy and torn up. Growing up black. And growing up human. It is, quite simply, one of the most remarkable novels in years.

  • The College Selection Workbook (2005)
    Choosing a college—the most significant decision in every student’s educational life—all too often feels like a hit-or-miss affair. But veteran educator Barry Beckham has systematized and streamlined the process with a series of self-paced exercises designed to match student and institution.

  • A Black Student's Guide to Scholarship for Black and Minority Students (1997+)
    Does a college education seem like an impossible, expensive dream? It doesn't have to. This indispensable guide to scholarships for black and minority students will help turn your dream of going to college into reality. Updated and enlarged, this is the top reference tool listing the most important as well as little-known sources of private financial aid for black and minority students.

  • The Black Student's Guide to Colleges (1984+)


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