Baby Boy Fisher was raised in institutions from the moment of his birth in prison to a single mother. He ultimately came to live with a foster family, where he endured near-constant verbal and physical abuse. In his mid-teens he escaped and enlisted in the navy, where he became a man of the world, raised by the family he created for himself.
Finding Fish shows how, out of this unlikely mix of deprivation and hope, an artist was born first as the child who painted the feelings his words dared not speak, then as a poet and storyteller who would eventually become one of Hollywood's most sought-after screenwriters.
A tumultuous and ultimately gratifying tale of self-discovery written in Fisher's gritty yet melodic literary voice, Finding Fish is an unforgettable reading experience.
About the Author
Antwone Fisher is the author of the New York Times bestseller Finding Fish. He is also the screenwriter of the film Antwone Fisher, based on his life and directed by Academy Award winner Denzel Washington. Fisher lives in Los Angeles with his wife and two daughters.
Mim Eichler Rivas is the author of the acclaimed Beautiful Jim Key, as well as the coauthor of more than eighteen books, including The Pursuit of Happyness and Finding Fish with Antwone Fisher.
Read an Excerpt
If I follow the path of memory back to its start, I begin life looking out my upstairs bedroom window. It's here I have my best daydreams and where I can make up stories I like to think about. In my mind's first flash of light, I am here, on the inside looking out of the Picketts' two-story house on a street at the edge of Glenville, the second house from the corner, a block from 105. This is a snowcovered morning when the other kids, already school age, are gone and I'm alone, staring out into the blinding whiteness, thinking it's no fun being left behind, no one to play with.
There is something about being at this window that makes me feel safe. Depends on the smell, though. Young as I am, I have already learned to tell what kind of day it's going to be by the scent of the air in the morning. I can smell rain coming. Not just rain and weather and snow, like now, but other clues. Pancakes on the stove, I know it's going to be a good day. The smell of eggs and grits or water steaming off the driveway after Mizz Pickett hoses it down, either one means I better be on the lookout all day.
I squint my eyes real hard and try to use my special heat-ray vision to melt all the snow. Nothing happens. My powers must need more practice, I decide. Maybe I should try the looking-through-walls trick. That way, I can catch everybody in their alien monster faces.
Yep, everybody in this house, except me -- aliens. Mizz Pickett, the alien leader, Reverend Pickett (her trusty sidekick), and their older kids, whose last names are Pickett. Even Dwight and Flo, who have different last names, like me. Children aliens. They just have to pretend to bescared, so I think they're human like me.
The thing about aliens is that when I'm not in the room they don't have on their human faces. And they have kind of goat bodies with hooves and horns and Devil bugging-out eyeballs and long black sideburns. But just before I come into a room, they slip into disguise so I can't catch 'em. One day, I tell myself, I'm gonna be reeeeaaIll quiet and tiptoe down the stairs from the bedroom and sneak soooo carefully into the kitchen and catch Mizz Pickett standing over the stove in her alien body and face -- before she uses her powers to see me first. Cooking raccoons always weakens her powers.
But instead of trying to catch her this day, I keep standing at the window, practicing my snow-melting skills. Right now, I know, if I really go out there, the snow will freeze me, so I better just stay in here and daydream some more.
It seems the time came for the visits to child welfare whenever I was doing something I didn't want to be interrupted from, like daydreaming. That's the first thing. Next, I got to be on the watch that she's gonna try to be nice to me. But it don't never last, and that's why I rather she stay her regular way -- mean.
I'm at my spot, looking out the window, and I feel her there, standing behind me, all in her monster face and stuff, just waiting for me to turn around so she can practice putting on her human face. That's how monsters play. But I don't fall for that 'cause I know she's not nice. Besides, she's too old to play with kids. So I keep staring out the window, pretending I don't know she's there at the door.
Dwight is in the closet. He's mad at everybody 'cause he's gotta go with me on the visit to the social services office. That's where all the white people are. Except the one they call my caseworker, who's colored like me. There's another one I saw there, too. She was late I heard them say. Another time they said she was coming but she didn't. But I don't care. I only like to see the toys they got in the toy box and play with them for a little while.
Usually I have to go there by myself but today Dwight's coming, too, and I'm glad. It means I'm not the only one wearing the church clothes. It makes me feel special when I'm the only one wearing them on a weekday. I hate feeling special.
I can feel her behind me, opening her mouth, showing her big sharp teeth, and now I'm scared, but this time, I turn around real fast and she's changed human again. Standing there in the doorway, smiling that fake smile.
"Where is Dwight?" she says.
The closet door creaks slowly open and out steps Dwight, his red-green-and-yellow-plaid Sunday-school bow tie slightly crooked.
"What-choo doin' in dat dhere closet? Nigga! Get on out here so we can get ready ta go! Ya think we got all day?"
She grabs him by the shoulder and jerks at the bow tie to straighten it.
Then she turns back to me with that same put-on smile as I hop to the floor in panic. Panic that she will yell at me next. But instead of yelling, she talks in a making-fun, teasing way, telling Dwight, "Twonny has ta see his momma today." Barely concealing her disapproval of the visit, her mouth twists as she talks and she pushes up her glasses from slipping down her nose, like she's mad at the glasses that she has to take me downtown in the rain.
Her words stick in my ears and my mind...Finding Fish. Copyright © by Antwone Fisher. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Table of Contents
|Pre-memoir: An Uninvited Guest||1|
|Act 1||Ward of the State||31|
|1||1959 to 1964||33|
|2||1965 to 1969||61|
|3||1969 to 1972||101|
|4||1973 to 1976||149|
|Act 2||The Rain That Falls||211|
|5||1976 to 1977||213|
|Act 3||Man of the World||263|
|7||1977 to 1992||265|
|Post-memoir: Finding Fish||327|