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Beatty, Paul. Tuff, a novel.

Random House, Anchor. 259p. c2000. 0-385-72111-0. $13.00 A

Meet Winston "Tuff" Foshay--at 22, he's seen a lot of the way the world works from the streets of East Harlem. One thing he never thought he'd see, though, was himself on a city council ballot, and none of his homies could be more surprised than he is when the tortuous path of his young life leads him back to the activist footsteps of his Black Panther, mostly absentee, father.

Tuffy (300 pound ex-con, drug dealer, fan of art movie houses and his home turf) can't help but bring echoes of rappers like Biggie Smalls to mind. It's Beatty's poetic, muscular rhythms, satiric eye and true regard for the neighborhoods and denizens of this little corner of the world that bring it all to vibrant, spinning life. Once Tuff gears up to make his move, propelled by the need to find a way to make money over the summer, his dreams of a future for wife Yolanda and baby Bryce Extraordinaire (Jordy for short), and his growing conviction that nobody from the outside can understand or care, his campaign is energized, inspired, and totally unlike anything Spanish Harlem has ever seen. This is a heartfelt hoot and a half, and readers will discover not only one of the best characters in recent books, but another way of viewing the system and a new spin on the meaning of intervention. With his gang behind him, and the support of an aging Japanese socialist and an unlikely Big Brother, Rabbi Spencer Throckmorton, we see how just the right word at the right time from the right caring older person can help a young man turn his life around. In Tuff, the revolution may not be televised, but it is personalized. Mary Arnold, Reg. YA Svcs. Mgr., Cuyahoga Cty. P.L., Maple Heights, OH
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Copyright 2002, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Author:Arnold, Mary
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Mar 1, 2002
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