ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes


Home   ChickenBones Store (Books, DVDs, Music, and more)   


the story of two sisters, Page and Pinch. It is a coming-of-age story with its setting

 in Oakland, California, in the 1980s, at a time when the beautiful, crumbling

city is being transformed by the dark temptations of its underworld



More like Wrestling

By Danyel Smith


About the Book


More like Wrestling  is the story of two sisters, Page and Pinch. It is a coming-of-age story with its setting in Oakland, California, in the 1980s, at a time when the beautiful, crumbling city is being transformed by the dark temptations of its underworld. The sisters are confronted with a series of surprising reversals—death, disaster, and, maybe, love—that forces them to come to grips with the truth about their choices and their tangled roots.


Smart, stubborn Paige and her silent little sister, Pinch, enjoy an idyllic if lopsided childhood as children of a single mother, with visits to the library, ballet lessons, and Black Panther day care.

But when Paige is 14 and Pinch is 12, their mother's boyfriend attacks Paige in public, and Paige persuades their mother to rent the girls their own apartment. Making house for each other, they begin to attract a circle of friends: Maynard, Donnell and LaNell, Teeara, Oscar. Through high school it is all (or mostly) innocent, just microwave dinners together and trips to Mexicali Rose for burritos.

Then the boys begin to have more money—too much money. Paige's best friend, Maynard, marries an uptown girl named Jess and has a baby; Paige drops out of college and starts dating Oscar. Oscar and Maynard begin dealing drugs; then Jess is shot and killed, and Paige thinks she knows who's responsible.

Fiercely independent and sharp as she has always seemed, she begins to lose her bearings and lean on Pinch, who is still quiet but surprisingly resilient.

*   *   *   *

Lyrical and original . . . Smith has created vivid characters, a palpable sense of place, and a wholly absorbing story.New York Times Book Review


a promising newcomerEvette Porter, Black Issues Book Review


Lyrical and engaging . . . Smith’s light, sinewy prose sings with precision. Washington Post Bookworld

A wildly intelligent coming-of-age story [and] a morally complex take on the devastating costs of poverty and racism—a tale that deals in hard truths and, ultimately, forgiveness.Elle

Smith’s supple language and the generosity she shows toward her own imagination and memory allows something new and real to emerge—a grittier, muckier story, full of the uncertainty of life.—Africana


I know and love Danyel as a music writer. Now she writes with music in her language—and hits all the right notes.—Quincy Jones


More Like Wrestling is a work of beauty and moral complexity about love in its resplendent and damaging incarnations. A brilliant and bracing debut from a supremely gifted writer. —Michael Eric Dyson, author of Why I Love Black Women

Her second novel, Bliss  will be published July 2005. More like Wrestling (Three Rivers), by Danyel Smith is in paperback.  . Read an excerpt at california authors, naked cartwheels  coloredgirls

Danyel Smith, author, editor, and critic, is an MFA candidate. She lives in Manhattan, but was born and brought up in California. Smith is the author of the San Francisco Chronicle- best-selling novel, More like Wrestling, and she wrote the introduction for the New York Times-bestseller Tupac Shakur. Danyel  is  also a former ed-at-large for Time Inc. and a former editor-in-chief of Vibe. She writes around for Elle, Cosmo, O, Essence, wrote once (!) for the New Yorker, still will show up in Rolling Stone sometimes, still reps in spirit for the San Francisco Bay Guardian, and wrote concert reviews for the New York Times back in the day.

posted 7 May 2005

*   *   *   *   *'s 25 Best Selling Books



#1 - Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark
#2 - Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree
#3 - Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane
#4 - Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper
#5 - Stackin' Paper 2 Genesis' Payback by Joy King
#6 - Thug Lovin' (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark
#7 - When I Get Where I'm Going by Cheryl Robinson
#8 - Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby
#9 - The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane

#10 - Covenant: A Thriller  by Brandon Massey

#11 - Diary Of A Street Diva  by Ashley and JaQuavis

#12 - Don't Ever Tell  by Brandon Massey

#13 - For colored girls who have considered suicide  by Ntozake Shange

#14 - For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree

#15 - Homemade Loves  by J. California Cooper

#16 - The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper

#17 - Player Haters by Carl Weber

#18 - Purple Panties: An Anthology by Sidney Molare

#19 - Stackin' Paper by Joy King

#20 - Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey

#21 - The Upper Room by Mary Monroe

#22 – Thug Matrimony  by Wahida Clark

#23 - Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark

#24 - Married Men by Carl Weber

#25 - I Dreamt I Was in Heaven - The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter


#1 - Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable
#2 - Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans
#3 - Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane
#4 - Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper
#5 - Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You're Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant
#6 - Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey
#7 - The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight
#8 - The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing
#9 - The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson

#10 - John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History  by Ahati N. N. Toure

#11 - Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley

#12 -The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

#13 - The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

#14 - The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

#15 - Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can't Commit  by RM Johnson

#16 - Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins

#17 - Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell

#18 - A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 - John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 - Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

#21 - Age Ain't Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice

#22 - 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino
#23 - Chicken Soup for the Prisoner's Soul by Tom Lagana
#24 - 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields

#25 - Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

*   *   *   *   *

Life on Mars

By Tracy K. Smith

Tracy K. Smith, author of Life on Mars has been selected as the winner of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. In its review of the book, Publishers Weekly noted the collection's "lyric brilliance" and "political impulses [that] never falter." A New York Times review stated, "Smith is quick to suggest that the important thing is not to discover whether or not we're alone in the universe; it's to accept—or at least endure—the universe's mystery. . . . Religion, science, art: we turn to them for answers, but the questions persist, especially in times of grief. Smith's pairing of the philosophically minded poems in the book’s first section with the long elegy for her father in the second is brilliant." Life on Mars follows Smith's 2007 collection, Duende, which won the James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets, the only award for poetry in the United States given to support a poet's second book, and the first Essence Literary Award for poetry, which recognizes the literary achievements of African Americans. The Body’s Question (2003) was her first published collection.

*   *   *   *   *

Salvage the Bones

A Novel by Jesmyn Ward

On one level, Salvage the Bones is a simple story about a poor black family that’s about to be trashed by one of the most deadly hurricanes in U.S. history. What makes the novel so powerful, though, is the way Ward winds private passions with that menace gathering force out in the Gulf of Mexico. Without a hint of pretension, in the simple lives of these poor people living among chickens and abandoned cars, she evokes the tenacious love and desperation of classical tragedy. The force that pushes back against Katrina’s inexorable winds is the voice of Ward’s narrator, a 14-year-old girl named Esch, the only daughter among four siblings. Precocious, passionate and sensitive, she speaks almost entirely in phrases soaked in her family’s raw land. Everything here is gritty, loamy and alive, as though the very soil were animated. Her brother’s “blood smells like wet hot earth after summer rain. . . . His scalp looks like fresh turned dirt.” Her father’s hands “are like gravel,” while her own hand “slides through his grip like a wet fish,” and a handsome boy’s “muscles jabbered like chickens.” Admittedly, Ward can push so hard on this simile-obsessed style that her paragraphs risk sounding like a compost heap, but this isn’t usually just metaphor for metaphor’s sake. She conveys something fundamental about Esch’s fluid state of mind: her figurative sense of the world in which all things correspond and connect. . . . .—WashingtonPost

*   *   *   *   *

The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

*   *   *   *   *

Ancient African Nations

*   *   *   *   *

If you like this page consider making a donation

online through PayPal

*   *   *   *   *

Negro Digest / Black World

Browse all issues

1950        1960        1965        1970        1975        1980        1985        1990        1995        2000 ____ 2005        


*   *   *   *   *

The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery / George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

*   *   *   *   *

The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

*   *   *   *   *

*   *   *   *   *

ChickenBones Store (Books, DVDs, Music, and more)







update 5 May 2012




Home  Books N Review

Related files: More Like Wrestling  Bliss