Honky in the Middle

Dalton Conley Talks About His Youth in the Projects

Dalton Conley: "I have studied whiteness the way I would study a foreign language."
photo: Brian Finke
Dalton Conley: "I have studied whiteness the way I would study a foreign language."

And yet, Conley's whiteness and his position in society by extension have been carefully contemplated: "I have studied whiteness the way I would study a foreign language," he writes at the beginning of his memoir. "I know its grammar, its parts of speech; I know the subtleties of its idioms, its vernacular words and phrases to which the native speaker has never given a second thought." Honky analyzes the advantages of skin color that so many Caucasians take for granted. At the same time, it is a thoughtful, often comic memoir—the story of a boy who not only lived to tell his tale, but understood it as well.

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