""And I thought I knew this crazy-brave black boy who bolted out of a Harlem ghetto into a white prep school and bobbed and weaved his way across the treacherous divide between black and white America. But Dennis Watlington's life story is even more astonishing than I knew. He emerges a no-jive black integrationist who is proud of the slave ancestry that makes him a solid American foreperson."" -Gail Sheehy, bestselling author of Passages and Understanding Men's Passages
Chasing America is a rollercoaster ride through promise and poverty, affirmative action and addiction, and a powerful story that captures a life and an era that is seminally American. Born in Harlem in 1952, Dennis developed a heroin habit at the age of 14, kicked it, and received a scholarship to the Hotchkiss School where he was elected president of his class. He went on to NYU, became involved in film and theater (he had a small role in The Deerhunter and gave Bruce Willis his start in a play called Bullpen), got addicted to crack, kicked that, and became an Emmy winning television writer. Chasing America shows us the best and worst that America offers to a Black man--from the Jim Crow South to boarding school life in New England to backstage at the Fillmore East to a holding cell in Bellevue Hospital. Part Ellison, part Exley, Chasing America is an amazing story.