Fly With A Murder of Crows Receives Kirkus Review

A raw debut memoir by a former drug dealer and addict who tells of enduring abuse in early childhood.

Feldman writes early on that his mostly absent father was involved in a number of New York City textile businesses that were possibly connected to the mob and that his schizophrenic mother was an alcoholic who later became a crack-cocaine addict. The author soon recounts that when he was very young, his father left him overnight with wealthy pedophiles, possibly to resolve a financial problem. Although his father provided steady housing for his family in Manhattan, Feldman says, his financial support became spotty after the author’s parents divorced. The author was 11 at the time, and by then, he’d found a new father figure—his mother’s lover and drug dealer. Clarence, he says, was a heroin addict with a reputation for surviving gun battles; however, he had a tender heart for those he considered family, including those, like Feldman, who weren’t blood relatives. He drew the young man into the warmth of his own extended African-American family; gave him tips on how to survive in the South Bronx, where he now lived; and, later, reluctantly provided Feldman with the necessary connections to become a drug dealer. Despite attending college, the author found it hard to break away from his version of the family business. Parts of this memoir are vague, likely because Feldman wrote it in two weeks (according to an afterword by its editor, Mark Greenberg) and also because it sometime relates incomplete memories. Although the author’s story is moving, his prose can be frustratingly ragged; the descriptions of many family members, friends, girlfriends, teachers, and drug-dealing associates lack detail and dimension. However, there are some passages that will grab reader’s attention with West Side Story–like images, such as a recollection of how the author and his teenage friends traversed “whole city blocks just by using the fire escapes and rooftops.”

A roughly told account of a rough life but one worth reading.

—Kirkus Review

Stephen McArthur