"Raising Fences: A Black Man's Love Story" by Michael Datcher hit bookshelves on March 1, 2001. It was published by Riverhead and came in at 336 pages. On October 1, 2002, the "Today's Show" Book Club edition was made available for sale. A paperback version intended for book club readers, it came in at 288 pages.
Overview of "Raising Fences"
This autobiography shares the often painful story of a black man growing up on the streets of Los Angeles. At a young age, Datcher was a street-hardened thug who turned to thievery. He had a deep-rooted dislike for police after numerous negative experiences with them as a young boy. He struggled with having no father; he was the result of a rape. But before Datcher passed the point of no return, he turned his life around with the help of prayer and poetry. The book does not seek acceptance of Datcher's decisions or make excuses for his choices but is merely a medium for the author to tell his story.
Synopsis of "Raising Fences"
"Raising Fences" tells the story of a black man's journey from a criminal youth to a productive adult. As Datcher shares the details of his life, he jumps around from life as a youth to a teen to an adult and back again. We learn of Datcher's struggles as he tried to comprehend being an adopted child, his first experiences with sex, which had more to do with measuring up than with making love, and his love of poetry. Joining a group of poets in Los Angeles changed Datcher's life forever, and poetry gave him a positive window for the future. The book includes some of Datcher's poetic works and poems by some of his fellow poet cohorts.
Datcher was raised by an adopted mother in a fatherless home. After he pulled himself off the streets, Datcher became a poet and eventually an acclaimed journalist; his work has appeared in the "Los Angeles Times" and "The Washington Post." In the past Datcher was a Pacific News Service correspondent, edited "Tough Love: The Life and Death of Tupac Shakur" and contributed to a number of anthologies.
Meaning of "Raising Fences"
Although it's initially unclear what Datcher means by "raising fences," it is evident by the conclusion of the book that he is referring to trying to find a balance between striving to reach his dreams while allowing others access into his life. The most amazing thing about this book is watching a boy grow to manhood; although Datcher stumbled and fell many times, the grace with which he picked himself up and carried on is inspirational.
- The African American Literature Book Club: Michael Datcher
- "Raising Fences"; Michael Datcher; 2004
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