Fist Stick Knife Gun

Title: Fist Stick Knife Gun: A Personal History of Violence
Author: Geoffrey Canada; (adapted by) James Nicholas
Pub: Beacon Press; 2010; 2005
Pages: 124
Genre: Memoir, Graphic
Etc: Received via LT's Early Review Program

Mmmkay...I have to make a confession. My ears immediately perk up when I hear or see a book that lends itself to a 'full disclosure on my life whilst in the bleak caverns of violence'. In fact, that little gem of Truth right there is the reason why I read (and reviewed) Gang Leader for a Day last year.

But why, you might ask. Especially if you knew me. I mean, I'm no Pollyanna by any means, but I do like to think of myself as a "let's just give peace a chance" kinda gal. No really. I am. Which means, if that's Truth and the inclination for reading about gang like violence is O-Natural then something must be amiss, yes?

I consider it more about research. Ya'lls know I am a teacher. And so I teach at a Title I school, which IS NOT synonymous WITH violence, but I have my fair share of evidence that says poverty and violence as power is a common equation. Plus, the need for community and someone to look out for makes gang life appealing. Reading personal accounts helps me understand motivation and an opportunity for dialogue.

As you've perhaps gathered, FSKG is about the author (Geoffrey Canada)'s story about violence. Not unsurprisingly you might then assume that Canada grew up in a poor area of town where violence equates to power.

Canada's experience with violence is a journey. It begins when a bully steals his jacket. Canada and his older brothers return home hopeful that their mother would have a solution. Surprise unfolds when she matter-of-factly tells the boys that they must return to the scene of the crime and take back what is theirs. "My mother told us we had to stick together. That we couldn't let people know we were afraid." At four years old, young Canada knew that life in the Bronx had multiple layers to it.

I don't want to get to in depth with this story as it's a quick read (easily completed in one session) and the amount of innocence and depth in these characters are fleshed out both in words and sketches

I knew nothing about Geoffrey Canada's memoir that he wrote in 2005 and that which this graphic memoir is adapted from prior to opening up these pages. I'm intrigued enough to want to pick up the book as well. Canada now runs Harlem Children's Zone.


  1. Interesting. As a mom, I always taught my sons to be nonviolent. Not sure that was the easiest way to deal with problems....

  2. Wow. This sounds like such an interesting book! I'm adding it to my tbr pile.


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