STARRED REVIEW
June 2018

And still I rise

By Darnell L. Moore

Love is a complicated matter. That’s true for anyone, and it’s a concept Darnell L. Moore has wrestled with throughout his life.

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Love is a complicated matter. That’s true for anyone, and it’s a concept Darnell L. Moore has wrestled with throughout his life.

Moore was born into tough circumstances as the child of two black teenagers in Camden, New Jersey. What his large and close family lacked financially, they made up for in love. But Moore struggled to love himself. He recognized his attraction to other men at a young age, and he found it abhorrent. Homosexuality didn’t fit with his idea of acceptable black masculinity. Moore pushed down his feelings with a tough attitude and attempted to hide from the world with a series of girlfriends and sexual encounters with women.

It didn’t work. When he was 14, neighborhood boys suspected him of being gay and attempted to set him on fire. The fire didn’t light, but the bullying left emotional scars.

In No Ashes in the Fire, writer and Black Lives Matter leader Moore recounts decades of running from his true self. His lyrical reflection reveals a teenage boy in search of his family story—and a young man who ran from it.

“As long as I wasn’t a clone of my dad, I thought, there was no need for her to complain,” he writes of his emotionally manipulative relationships with women. “I hadn’t yet realized I was his son, his likeness, an ellipsis extending his presence into the world.”

Moore describes years of self-loathing and the drugs, then religiosity, he used to mask his desires. He faces his biases against certain people, such as black femme men, and in doing so he realizes—and invites the reader to recognize—that justice means freedom and equality for all.

 

This article was originally published in the June 2018 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

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No Ashes in the Fire

No Ashes in the Fire

By Darnell L. Moore
Nation Books
ISBN 9781568589480

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