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The Hearts of Men.

The Hearts of Men by Travis Hunter Striver's Row, June 2001, $13.95, ISBN 0-375-75709-0

Male egos are fragile yet shatterproof in this true-to-life debut novel. Tough lessons and father-wit loom large in this story about men staying the course and stumbling along the way with a million eyes watching.

Tall, dark, chiseled and compromised, ex-car thief Prodigy Banks is a 28-year-old Atlanta "playa" whose philandering ways and habitual lateness on the job have caught up to him. When Prodigy and his married co-worker Gina are caught with their pants down on company videotape, his boss gives a tough caution in lieu of a pink slip. This wake up call, along with his fatherly mentor Winston "Poppa Doc" Fuller's ever-present advice, puts Prodigy in motion. He becomes a reluctant mentor to his live-in gangster cousin Jermaine and eventually a mentor at a youth center where he befriends a young asthmatic, Blake, and falls head over heels for the boy's mom, Nina. Just when Prodigy thinks all is well, his past trips him up; again he is faced with a situation he must confront with all his heart as a man.

Similarly, god-fearing, workaholic family man, Bernard Charles, son-in-law to Poppa Doc, faces reunion with his mom who abandoned him as a child. At the same time he must face his wife's infidelity and the long heart-search to forgive.

Hunter's prose isn't subtle as it preaches male self-reliance and responsibility, but his landscape of characters and their quandaries are sho'nuff true to life.

Ahmad Wright is a freelance writer living in New York City. His work has appeared in Vibe, Maxim, Trace and The Washington Post Book World.
COPYRIGHT 2001 Cox, Matthews & Associates
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2001, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:Review
Author:Wright, Ahmad
Publication:Black Issues Book Review
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jul 1, 2001
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