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Word Count: 871
PIRI THOMAS Down These Mean Streets Throughout the literary life of New York many writers have concentrated their works on the influence that the atmosphere of the city has had on their lifestyle There is hardly a major American English Irish French or Spanish writer who hasnt poured their heart out in an autobiography that reflects their personal experience as a New Yorker In the past few years an enormous number of books about New York have appeared which represent a close look at the city as it is poised to defy all expectations and change in a new way Piri Thomas was born of Puerto Rican and Cuban parents in New York Citys Spanish Harlem in 1928 The vicious street environment racism and crime caused Thomas to struggle for survival identity and recognition at an early age Poverty in the ghetto led him to drugs youth gangs and a series of criminal activities for which he served seven years in prison There he began his life of rehabilitation and rose above his violent background of drugs and gang warfare by using his street and prison experience to turn youths away from the lives of crime In 1967 Piri Thomas career and fame as an author were launched with the fascinating autobiography Down These Mean Streets In his writing which he began while in prison during the 1950s Thomas introduces the stereotypes that the society imposed on his Puerto Rican and black heritage The undeniable power of the book claims the readers attention and emotional response because of the honesty and pain of a life in outlaw where the dream is always to escape even in the heart of our city Writing Down These Mean Streets forced Piri Thomas to go back into time and relive certain traumatic experiences of growing up on the rough streets of the Spanish Harlem The book combines urban street talk and Spanish phrases with a poetic
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