Like his brother before him, Stringer was surrendered to foster care, shortly after birth, by his unwed and underemployed mother—a common practice for unmarried women in mid-century America. Less common was that she returned six years later to reclaim her children. Rather than leading to a happy ending, though, this is where Stringer's story begins. The clash of being poor and black in an affluent, largely white New York suburb begins to foment pain and rage which erupts, more often than not, when he is at school. One violent episode results in his expulsion from the sixth grade and his subsequent three-year stint at Hawthorne, the "sleepaway school" of the title.
What follows is an intensely personal, American journey: a universal story of childhood where childhood universals are absent. We experience how a child fashions his life out of the materials given to him, however threadbare. This is a "boy-meets-world" story, the chronicle of one child’s struggle simply to be.
From the Hardcover edition.
About Lee Stringer
LEE STRINGER's journey from childhood homelessness in the ’60s, to adult homelessness in the ’80s, to his present career as a writer and lecturer, as told in Sleepaway School and Grand Central Winter, is one of the great odysseys of contemporary American life and letters. Stringer, the only board member of Project Renewal who is also a former patient of the facility, has demonstrated that writers are made, not born. He is the two-time recipient of the Washington Irving Award and, in 2005, a Lannan Foundation Residency. He is a former editor and columnist of Street News. His essays and articles have appeared in a variety of other publications, including The Nation, The New York Times, and Newsday. He lives in Mamaroneck, New York, where he also serves on the board of the Mamaroneck Public Libraries.
About Kurt Vonnegut
KURT VONNEGUT (1922–2007) was among the few grandmasters of late 20th century American letters. Vonnegut’s other books from Seven Stories Press include his last major bestseller A Man without a Country, God Bless You, Dr. Kevorkian and, with Lee Stringer, Like Shaking Hands with God. Seven Stories also publishes Kurt’s son Mark Vonnegut’s bestselling memoir, Eden Express: a Memoir of Insanity, with a foreword by Kurt Vonnegut, and Gregory D. Sumner’s Unstuck in Time: A Journey through Kurt Vonnegut’s Life and Novels.