Very disappointing biography
Customer: Stephen Kopian
Glen Head, NY US
-- September, 1, 2007
I'm very disappointed. Written by the huge Moreland fan (and one of my favorite writers) Michael Price this book is a confused mess. The first sixty or seventy pages of this book doesn't really deal with Moreland, rather it deals with Price's love Moreland, his travels through black culture and the backlash of the racial stereotypes in shows like Amos and Andy or personified by actors like Mantan. While the chapters are suppose to give an overview of the times during Moreland's career, they are so unfocused, repetitive and unconnected that they seem to have been inserted into the book randomly. Price spends a great deal of time on Amos and Andy but never connects it or the controversy to Moreland. I also didn't really care for Price's personal recollections of talking to Jazz and Blues men where he mentions discussing Moreland with them. The recollections don't seem to lead anywhere and other then stating a shared love, it means nothing. If all of this was to put Moreland's rise and fall in some sort of context it didn't work since I felt just as lost as before I started the book. After first random sixty odd pages the actual story of Moreland's life begins. Told mostly using the recollections of Moreland's daughter this does begin to fill in the Moreland story, but its still not meaty enough. Price admits that he's working with a lack of material for some of the story but he could have weaved it together to tell a story that has more emotions and doesn't seem to be the Cliff Notes story of Moreland's life. Couldn't he have found more people to talk to then just Moreland's daughter? Don't get me wrong once it gets going the book is informative, but at the same time there is more to the story than we are being told, such as the battles within the Black community over whether to accept or reject Moreland and Amos and Andy (Why couldn't he have structured this as a story of Moreland's life paralleling the civil rights movement? A recent book on filmmaker Andy Milligan got around lack of material by dropping Milligan from the stage for large portions of the book and showing us the times he lived in). The brevity of the narrative is too small for what Price wants to do and the whole thing ends up being neither fish nor fowl (the book is about 145 pages before it switches to discussion (another 130 pages) of Moreland's body of work).
Only for those who really want to have so idea of the life of Mantan Moreland, all others need not apply.