This powerful debut novel by an award-winning journalist explores the challenges of fatherhood for three generations of black men.
A beautiful, tragic and riveting work." Marilyn Dahl, Shelf Awareness
In a seamless transition to fiction, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Pitts Jr. (Becoming Dad) delivers an unsettling, compelling first novel about secrets, illness, and the role of African-American men in society and family life. --Publishers Weekly, Starred review
In this masterful first novel, Leonard Pitts, Jr. already long acclaimed for his Pulitzer Prize-winning work as a columnist steps forward as a major new voice in fiction.Moses Johnson isn't an old man though he's a long way beyond his glory days as one of the most popular soul stars of the 70s. But at just about 50, he's shattered to learn that he's developing early-onset Alzheimer's Disease. The prospect is bleak; he's only got a brief amount of time before he loses his memory, and his conscious self, altogether. Mo's been lucky, and he knows it more successful than most, with at least one unforgettable hit to his name but there's plenty in his life he regrets.Most of those regrets have to do with his son, Trey whom Mo has largely ignored for most of 19 years, and whose fortunes take a turn for the worse when he gets caught up in a stickup gone bad organized by bad-news friends from the hood. And with Mo's own father, Jack, to whom he hasn't spoken for almost three decades, after the tragic, violent death of his mother. When he learns his father is dying from cancer, Mo decides to take Trey west, from their home in Baltimore, on a cross-country road trip to Los Angeles, where he grew up and where Jack still lives.The story of these three generations of black men bound by blood and by histories of mutual love, fear, and frustration gives Pitts the opportunity to explore the painful truths of black men's lives, especially as they play out in the fraught relations of fathers and sons. As Mo tries to reach out to the increasingly tuned-out Trey (who himself has become an unwed teenage father), he realizes that the burden of grief and anger he carries over his own father has everything to do with the struggles he encounters with his son.Before I Forget is the work not only of a masterful new voice in American fiction, but of a man who knows inside and out the difficulties facing black men as they grapple with their roles as fathers and more than anything, the crucial importance of fulfilling that role in all of their lives. This is one of the most important debut novels of 2009, by a writer certain to win as much acclaim for his fiction as for his highly regarded journalism."