Read Standing at the Scratch Line by Guy Johnson Online


Raised in the steamy bayous of New Orleans in the early 1900s, LeRoi "King" Tremain, caught up in his family's ongoing feud with the rival DuMont family, learns to fight. But when the teenage King mistakenly kills two white deputies during a botched raid on the DuMonts, the Tremains' fear of reprisal forces King to flee Louisiana. King thus embarks on an adventure that firRaised in the steamy bayous of New Orleans in the early 1900s, LeRoi "King" Tremain, caught up in his family's ongoing feud with the rival DuMont family, learns to fight. But when the teenage King mistakenly kills two white deputies during a botched raid on the DuMonts, the Tremains' fear of reprisal forces King to flee Louisiana. King thus embarks on an adventure that first takes him to France, where he fights in World War I as a member of the segregated 369th Battalion—in the bigoted army he finds himself locked in combat with American soldiers as well as with Germans. When he returns to America, he battles the Mob in Jazz Age Harlem, the KKK in Louisiana, and crooked politicians trying to destroy a black township in Oklahoma. King Tremain is driven by two principal forces: He wants to be treated with respect, and he wants to create a family dynasty much like the one he left behind in Louisiana. This is a stunning debut by novelist Guy Johnson that provides a true depiction of the lives of African-Americans in the early decades of the twentieth century....

Title : Standing at the Scratch Line
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780375756672
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 576 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Standing at the Scratch Line Reviews

  • Eric
    2018-09-18 14:26

    Wow. What a great book! Not at all what I expected. Completely unique, which is kind of a shame. I mean, why hasn't a story like this been told before? A pre-Civil Rights story about an African American male who is not a door mat shouldn't be such a novel concept, but it is. Yes, the fact that he is almost a super-human hero was a bit hard for me to swallow at first. But then I remembered that I have read lots of books with similar off-the-charts, Superman-like male protagonists (spys, assassins, and other James Bond types) - they've just never been Black in the 1920's!The hero, King Tremain, is not a very layered character, but some of the others are. The star in this respect would have to be Serenna, a wonderfully complex character, one that actresses would fight over should a movie ever be made.I must also commend author Guy Johnson for his craftsmanship in one particular area that interests me. He does something very rare in telling this story - something that you hardly ever see in books, and never in movies or TV. This book has several instances where the author hints at a potential plot direction, only to ultimately have that direction quietly die out. Note, I am absolutely NOT talking about the heavy handed "Plot Twists" that authors and scriptwriters typically use to intentionally manipulate emotions. No, I am talking about the very mundane way that 'story lines' ebb and flow in real life. We have ideas, aspirations and intentions that evolve over time. Some of them we pursue, and they become reality, others... simply don't. For a million different reasons. Sometimes we get distracted, or lack motivation. Sometimes expected opportunities don't present themselves. Sometimes we just change. Sometimes others do. Sometimes key people disappear from our life unexpectedly. That's just the way life, real life, is. Quietly unpredictable. But you rarely see this depicted in print, and even less so on screen. On TV, if you see a plot direction hinted at, it ALWAYS plays out. Always. If the lead detective just happens to bump into an old college buddy on the way to the courthouse it will ALWAYS have plot implications; nothing is wasted. Now, to be fair, in TV they have an excuse for this, because they have a fixed time constraint, and so don't have time to document all the subtle complexities of real life. However, novelists do not have such a constraint, so I have never understood why they so willingly give in to this laziness, because doing so makes their story predictable in the same way that TV shows usually are. Well, this author did NOT give in. This book was very UN-predictable, in quiet ways. It had people die. Main characters that you expected things from. Just die. Out of nowhere, off camera. At one point (spoiler) Serenna contemplates a collaboration with the DuMont clan, and I began sweating out the ramifications of that... but... nothing... ever... came of it. False starts. Just like real life. Made me feel like I was actually reading about a REAL LIFE (except maybe for the super-human black hero ;^).

  • Uranie
    2018-08-31 15:37

    All males should read this book. Strong, positive and loyal AA male figure.

  • Keith
    2018-09-11 10:42

    I stumbled upon Guy Johnson and his work while searching for “Pym” by Mat Johnson at my local library. I gave it a shot and was surprised with “Standing at the Scratch Line”. King Tremain is a complex and well layered character that honestly made me want to understand his train of thought and look into his future.Johnson used a lot of different characters like Serena, Big Ed, and Darwin “The Professor” Morris to give us a view of various characters that were involved in King’s life. Honestly, I ended the novel actually hating Serena who made several bad decisions along the way. Despite the overuse of rape as a story point and a slight historical hiccups (The Red Ball Express did not exist during WWI but I’m a nerd about things like that.) I liked this book a lot and plan on reading the sequel.

  • Kimberly Carmen
    2018-08-30 11:21

    This book had me thinking about what KING TREMAIN would do in certain situations. He is a simple yet complex man in his relationships with those around him. Family took form as blood relatives, people he trusted and of course his military associates. He was no nonsense and upfront. His knack for taking what he wanted chimed throughout the entire book. However, he was not a selfish man. Early in the book LeRoi "King" Tremain is sent away from his family for his actions while protecting his family name and joins the Army. He does extremely well in the army and forms a great bond with other members of 369th infantry. While in the service he perfected ways to exact hurt on the enemy and sometimes his fellow serviceman. It's while in the service that he gets the name KING. Upon returning stateside he goes to NYC and is amazed at what's happening there in the early 1900's. He opens a club with some of his military buddies but eventually goes back down south where he meets his wife Serena.KING and Serena raise two male children that are nothing at all alike. They are doing quite well and have amassed quite a bit of wealth. However, their lives are to be altered by actions Serena took earlier in their marriage. This book is difficult to read at times because of the racial insults constant during that time. But suffice it to say that KING did not take NOTHING from NOBODY!!Long live KING TREMAIN.

  • Cassondra
    2018-09-11 15:21

    King Tremain is a complex character with many layers and dimensions. I admired his strength, appreciated his love of family and honor, his courage was sexy and his dark side was scary but necessary.The story is exciting, thought provoking and cathartic. Social, psychological, financial and emotional issues are all addressed in this creative story of love, loss, growth and maturity. I can see each of character in this book. From the international scene of World War I to streets of Harlem and from the swamp of New Orleans to sunny San Franciso, the action was captivating. I enjoyed the look into how early black Americans acquired and gained wealth. It was interesting to see the courage it took to take risks just to create a legacy for your family.The themes of pride, freedom,loyalty, truth, faith, familial bonds, racism, strength and courage are weaved from the beginning to the end. So many stories were told so well and painted the picture of the primary themes. Colorful language, great story and dynamic characters. LOVED IT!!I can't wait to read Echoes of a Distant Summer. When is the mini-series coming????

  • Kathy
    2018-09-16 13:21

    This has to be one of the best books I read. What I hate is he only published 2 books and stopped

  • Terrica
    2018-09-10 08:25

    This is my absolute favorite book!!! I read this book over 10 years ago & it is still my favorite!! King Tremain was a man's man despite being black during an era when being black meant being less than. He didn't take no mess from anyone! No other book has completely enthrallled me and has me wishing for more stories about the main character!!! I would live to see this book made into a movie!I was so moved by the main character that I kept giving my husband updates while being pregnant with our first son. He liked the character and wanted to name our son King. Now I liked King Tremain but I wasn't a fan of the name. We kicked it around and came up with the name Kingston (which I liked much better). So thanks to Guy Johnson for creating an awesome character, great novel & playing a part in naming our son!Loved! Loved! Loved this book!!

  • Will
    2018-08-26 16:41

    This is my favorite book hands down; I have never been so excited about a character in a book before where I visualized that the character was myself. The main character in this book is a strong, wise, fearless, family oriented, loving brother that will not back down from any situation in order to protect the ones he care for and love. Guy Johnson, the author, also drops tid bits of history in this book (i love authors who do that), with the history he weaves in this story it encourages you to go research that history so you can grasp the full meaning of what he's talking about and to expand your knowledge.

  • Jenene
    2018-09-16 11:31

    I did not want this book to end!

  • Dana
    2018-09-07 13:34

    One of my all time favorite books, this is fabulous . It would make a great movie!

  • Jan
    2018-09-17 15:21

    Four stars rounding up to five because why the heck isn't this book more widely read and respected? It is great popular fiction, a panoramic story of a strong black man with a strong moral compass, living outside the law, building a family, fighting racism and other evils over 3o years of American history in Louisiana, World War I France, New York, Oklahoma, and San Francisco/Oakland. It's well written, well researched, and packed with the satisfactions of a serious adventure story --when King Tremain arrives on the scene, you KNOW the racists and oppressors are going to get their due. Some of the female characters were not as well handled, but the book still has a propulsive energy that pulls you along and gives you a great ride.

  • Marcus Nelson
    2018-09-16 16:27

    I didn’t know Guy Johnson was Maya Angelou’s son.  Until after I read this book.  It was so amazing, I researched the author to find out more about him.  And bam! that explained a lot.Set in New Orleans in the early 1900’s, LeRoi “King” Tremain is born into an ongoing family feud with the DuMonts.  And as a teenager, King mistakenly kills 2 White deputies during a botched raid on the family forcing King to flee for his safety to Louisiana.His ensuing adventure develops him into the man he becomes.  From France, fighting in WWI where he experiences the rapid bigotry pitting him against the Germans AND his fellow White soldiers back to America where he battles the mob in Harlem, the KKK in Louisiana and crooked politicians attempting to destroy a Black town in Oklahoma.All this while desiring to create a family life like the one he fled back in New Orleans.Excellent character development as King just wants respect from a world that is designed to belittle his every existence as a Black male.  You’ll feel his pain and triumph as humanly possible and root from him to succeed.

  • Maceo
    2018-09-14 08:36

    This is one of the best character sagas that I have read in a looooooong time. I highly recommend it.

  • Vanessa
    2018-09-10 16:33

    As I read this novel, I imagined King Tremain as a super hero. This was indeed a saga!!

  • Rebecca
    2018-08-27 09:28

    Our book group chose this book because we wanted to read something by the son of Maya Angelou. The author acknowledges his mother's teaching and example. Yet his writing is not like hers. I'm not sure what this genre is called or whether I have ever read anything within it before. The closest I can recall is the Lonesome Dove series by Larry McMurtry. Our main character is a lone gunslinger who learns about family and what it means to him over the years 1916 through 1946.Some notes about historical, cultural, and biblical references, as well as a prediction for what was in 1998 still in the future:42 12/28/1917 "One day there'll be a Negro general in the army; maybe even in yo' lifetime." Note that in 1917, Benjamin Oliver Davis Sr. was a major in the National Army; in 1940, he became the first African-American Army General. See also Colin Powell - promoted to 4-star general under George H.W. Bush in 1989.168-170, 189-193 Good Samaritan story about Sampson Davis, who becomes King's loyal sidekick.192 deaf woman gives sign language lessons198 The Crisis, NAACP magazine founded in 1910 by W.E.B. DuBois305 Bodie Wells, OK - "I'm goin' there 'cause it's a colored town, run by colored folks, and lived in by colored folks." Bodie Wells seems to be a fictional town. Compare Eatonville, FL, the first all-black town to incorporate in the country and the childhood home of Zora Neale Hurston. Note that in 1998 (the year this book was published), there was a black character on the TV show Dawson's Creek named Bodie Wells. He was played by Obi Ndefo, an American of Nigerian heritage, according to Wikipedia.384 The head porter at the Lafayette Social Club is named Clarence Thomas, which is also the name of the 1991 Supreme Court nominee (ultimately confirmed after some controversy).466 King says: "Maybe someday there'll even be a colored president."

  • Cathy Klein
    2018-08-30 09:18

    Standing at the Scratch Line was interesting. It was about a young black man, LeRoi "King" Tremain that is basically left to be on his own at a young age so he enters the military and becomes an unsung hero to many as he is able to accurately shoot from a distance and has enough emotional detachment to kill when he deems necessary.As the book moves along (slowly if you ask me), we follow Tremain through much of his life and see how he builds a dynasty of sorts although in a very mafia-like style. He eventually meets his future wife, Serena, who he falls for because of her similar toughness and mental strength. What he didn't realize is that she would have a jealousy of his past that would cause their whole future heartache.The two of them have a love/hate relationship that ends up driving them apart and firmly keeping a wedge in their whole family relationship. It was such a well-written and descriptive book, but I have to say that I was glad to be done with it. I found it also to be very almost depressing and not uplifting in any way. It was almost a hate begets hate book. No one becomes a better person because of their experiences and the family just seems to spiral from one bad fate to the next. The history is interesing as well as the New Orleans "black magic" aspect, but I don't know that I would have to read the second novel involving King Tremain's grandson.

  • Letitia Mask
    2018-09-17 08:29

    So emotional but we'll worth itThis story took me through so many emotions/ feelings and thought that I could not put it down. I loved kings character he was solid, true to himself and his race. When he & Serena first got together I was happy I thought they would be a power couple but she was a troubled child who has her own demons to the detriment of her family & her sons. While the color issues didn't come out in her background U have heard my family talk about light vs dark and the brown paper bag test. I hope in book 2 King finds his son but it doesn't sound like he will. This was a great read.

  • kimberly nickerson
    2018-08-29 13:30

    This book was EXCELLENT!!This is the best book I have read in a long time. Guy Johnson you should really consider making this a movie. It was EXCELLENT!! Thank you for writing such an awesone book.

  • Valerie Ellington
    2018-08-28 14:21

    Compelling & Excellent reading Standing at the Scratch Line start to finishedExcellent reading Standing at the Scratch Line, from beginning to end. One of best books I have read. Tremain King is the kind of hero we want to know throughout your life.

  • Theresa
    2018-09-10 13:40

    Excellent read!!!

  • Kathy
    2018-09-20 15:22

    Listened to the audiobook during my road trip from Colorado to Georgia. Still an excellent book, it was great to hear the voice of the characters.

  • Eileen
    2018-09-05 12:18

    Loved it. Loved the voices on the audio version. I'm not sure what type of research you do to write a book like this, but the characters are deeply drawn and the plot is very interesting.

  • Virginia
    2018-09-17 15:29

    I enjoy this book at the beginning, but unfortunately the author could not keep my first impression throughout the whole book. The principal problem was that his main character, King, was never truly known by the reader. The author could not make King come alive to me. He was almost like a mythical avenger toward everyone who is evil or has done evil to his people. I never got to know the character, King, I just read about him. Maybe I was supposed to hate King, maybe I was supposed to love King, or maybe I was supposed to pity him. I don't know, the author never created a soul for King. As for the story, it kept on repeating itself. King, strong and very capable of taking care of himself, had others do wrong to him or the people he worked with, or the people he loved, and then those that hurt him died. Usually by his hands and he pretty much got away with it. I usually enjoy when I see the evildoers getting their comeuppance, but it really got a little tiring in the story. Also, there was never any under plot that threatened King. The author had his chance to create these under plots, but missed all opportunities. He did suggest some in the book, but nothing ever came of those. Mostly the author tied up loose ends perfectly, so perfectly he ruined his own book. The only loose end he left in the book was that King never located his firstborn son. Maybe that's supposed to be another book, but I don't think I'm going to read it.

  • Akeel
    2018-09-12 09:39

    This book was a thriller that has you cringing to you seat the whole time. Racism is very prevalent and killing of both sides is rampant. Two different families war with each other when after generations the King is back. He does not tolerate the "N" word and if you do use it be warned. You won't expect how the book climaxes because there are too many climaxes. Be ready for a shocking ending.

  • Amelia Allen-Ray
    2018-09-25 16:27

    After having this book sit on the shelf for quite some time, I was finally able to sit down and read it.I found it to be an 'eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth' story. At first I was trying to understand the reason behind the motive for Tremain shedding blood without remorse. But as I got further into the story, I began to see not only a black Josey Wales, but a black American hero too. The only drawback was the disappointment of Tremain being robbed of uniting with his first born son.Although it has all the makings for a good fictional tale, yet there are so many layers of reality with respect to the ongoing saga of black America. Just as the character of Serena was plagued by selfishness, and guilt with a driven desire for acceptance into the circles of black-high society, there is no difference in the attitudes of certain stereotypes today.I highly recommend this book especially for my brothers and sisters who are feeling the pressure of heighten-oppression due to the horrific incidents of friendly-fire by the enforcers of the law these days, because it offers a diversion of escape to a place of hope and positive reinforcement just to be a human-being and not an opportunity as another targeted prey at the end of the day.

  • Larry
    2018-09-04 08:40

    This book is jam packed with -- with what? -- adventure? suspense? plot-twists? If it was a movie, it would have a form of "Deliverance" in it, a healthy dose of "Band of Brothers", a smorgasbord of "The Godfather", "Mississippi Burning", and what I would say fits the form, if not the proper setting of a terrific Western, like "Pale Rider". And yet, it ends with a mix of Old Testament Bible and Greek Tragedy. In short, it's not lacking in content. And it does not come across as contrived as it goes through all these machinations. Of course, the fact that it's centered on racially black characters, pretty much takes it off the mainstream reading list, as it would most assuredly have been a massive best-seller otherwise. I have a slight problem with the level of literary skills, but I'm comparing it to some exemplary wordsmiths whose writing styles I prefer. This is not badly written. Actually, my biggest issue with the book is the second most significant character's utter unlikability after first being setup as a potential counterbalance for the raw nature of the main character. But then, I wouldn't tolerate such total lack of personal grace, so maybe it's just me.

  • Melinda
    2018-09-06 14:21

    WOW!! This was one of the most exciting books I've ever read----truly a page turner. The story spans the years from WWI through WWII giving a unique perspective of the African American experience in that time frame. The author has depicted King Tremain, the main character, as a strong, proud, Black man during a time when it was especially difficult to survive the constant indignities of racism. The reader follows Kings as he leaves his teens in Louisiana, participates in a segregated army unit in WWI Europe, returns to Harlem, then back to Louisiana, onto a unique experience in Oklahoma, and finally to San Francisco and Oakland. Through it all, the reader keeps wondering: how will he make it out of this escapade! Now I can't wait to read the sequel.

  • Byron
    2018-09-21 08:22

    This Klantastic account of a psychotically angry African-American killing all who stand against him (including plenty of Klansman) would make a fucking awesome blaxsploitation film. The language is pretty simplistic, though, by no means a great book, but a fun ride. The author is the son of Maya Angelou, btw. I listened to it as an audio book, and the reader did a great job with black vernacular, but had some difficulty sounding like the racist crackers of the South. He should have impersonated a NASCAR driver to get that voice down better. Oh yeah, the book ends without resolution, to make you buy the sequel. Fuck off, author-dude! Not cool!

  • Sam Reaves
    2018-09-22 14:25

    There's nothing like a big historical epic to keep me up at night. This one takes us into the under-explored territory of the African American experience in the early twentieth century. A tough Louisiana backwoods kid has to flee the bayous after killing a sheriff's deputy; he serves in the segregated U.S. Army in World War I and then comes back to Jazz Age Harlem and points west in a country where he is a second-class citizen, fighting for respect the whole way. The dialogue is a bit stilted at times, but the action covers a lot of interesting ground and you can't beat a good underdog-versus-the world story.

  • Deanie
    2018-09-13 09:24

    This is the first installment of a family saga written by Guy Johnson, son of Maya Angelou. Obviously he inherited her gift for communicating. The novel spans from 1916-1946 through larger-than-life protagonist LeRoi Boudreaux Tremain-aka King. From the trenches of WWI to 1940s San Francisco, by way of Harlem and New Orleans, King takes part in a family feud at 14, fights with the all-black 369th Regiment in the fields of Alsace-Lorraine, does battle with the mob, the KKK and law enforcement agents everywhere. His family starts to fall apart through the complications of two illegitimate sons, conceived by him and his wife, Serena. The ensuing tragedies prove money cannot buy happiness.