Cover Image: Scenes from My Life

Scenes from My Life

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Member Reviews

This is a hard book to review because Michael K Williams should be getting ready to make TV appearances to promote it. He should be on a small book tour to talk about it. People should be lined up to get a copy signed and hear him read sections in his signature gravely voice.

Instead, we have this. This collection of stories. Of meeting Barak Obama while coked out of his mind. Of a teenager asking him if he was happy and him not knowing how to answer. Of his parents, and his father taking him to a club on Flatbush Avenue when he was under the age of 10 and being dragged out when all he wanted was to watch that live music. Of recording Janet Jackson’s “Rhythm Nation” video and obsessively learning the moves.

There is no hiding the drug use. Williams is open about it and his constant struggle with it. He openly talked about the up and down fight with his demons, during the height of his fame. Does it make it sadder knowing how the story ends? Absolutely.

It's heartbreaking to know that we could have so much more of him, but it's good to know that we all had access to Michael K Williams for as long as we did.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for the opportunity to read and review this book.
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NetGalley ARC Educator 550974

Michael K, overcame so much and impacted millions of people with his passion and skills as an actor. Those closest to him knew him in ways, the public did not until now. This book is magnificent, an emotional read. He is missed for certain.
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Sharing the Scars 

The face, the energy, the charisma, jumped out when Michael K. Williams took over the screen. HBO’s “The Wire,” long considered one of the best series ever, reverberated once his Omar character appeared. In a cast of brilliant actors somehow this awkward, troubled kid from the Bronx stepped in and captivated us.

I just wish the man was still around to see his story come out.

On September 6, 2021, word hit that Michael K. Williams had od’d. Like so many other tragic Hollywood deaths, the news was stunning. We knew Michael. We recognized him. We wanted the dialogue to continue. This could not be right– there was so much more for him to offer. His characters radiated danger and menace… but that was the script, the acting, right?

In “Scenes from My Life” Michael tells us about the insecure boy growing up in a tough Brooklyn neighborhood. We see him awaken and connect with life when Janet Jackson’s “Rhythm Nation” video kindles an obsession with performing. He turns himself into an in-demand dancer and eventually the very talented actor we all knew. 

But there are the drugs. Over and over we see him fall victim to his addictions. Who knew that his resistance crumpled once he no longer had Omar to hide behind? From there we see a series of ups and downs as he fought his demons. When he first met Barack Obama he was so high on cocaine he could barely function. He repeats a number of times that he knows he is never free for good. Eventually he comes to believe his purpose is to be an example to others, to make his story heard and see if anyone else could stand on his shoulders. As you read the last few chapters you want to will a different ending… you want to fantasize the story of a man who brought himself back from the edge a number of times and lived to tell the tale.

Michael turned in his memoir shortly before overdosing on fentanyl, p-fluorofentanyl, heroin and cocaine. It is hard to judge another’s struggle, he is gone. Just a shame. More chapters should have been there for the taking. I recommend the book as a way to see into this man, as heartbreaking as it is to see him self-destruct and tumble away from us. 

Thank you to Crown Publishing and NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review. 
#ScenesfromMyLife #NetGalley
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I loved this memoir. I've been disappointed with some because they didn't dive enough into their career but in this case his memoir is a perfect mix of his upbringing, his struggles with addiction, his career, and his advocacy work. This is an important book to read because it not only dives into the horrors of addiction but the need for prison reform that he was so passionate about. Thanks to Net Galley and the publisher for allowing me to read this in exchange for an honest review.
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Such an amazing memoir about an exceptional person. I love how open and honest MKW was about everything from his struggles with addiction and his life growing up in poverty. His story is so worth reading. The world lost so much when he passed. I am so grateful the his book was able to be finished.

I received an ARC from Netgally in exchange for my honest review.
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Michael K. Williams memoir vividly recounts his life, from growing up in New York, to the accident that scarred him, to landing more TV roles, and eventually his social justice work. Often, his life takes two steps forward and one step back, nothing about his life was easy. The book does feel unfinished, which it probably is, given Williams’ recent death. Descriptions of the earlier part of his life feel much more authentic, self aware, and connected to a larger narrative. But the book feels complete enough that I get a sense of what Williams was aiming for before he passed. The parts about Williams social justice work are especially good, as well as the stories of the people Williams encountered during this work. You can tell that this wasn’t just intended to be Williams’ life story - he took this seriously as a platform to bring awareness to issues like addiction and the school to prison pipeline.

Thanks to Crown Publishing and NetGalley for the eARC in exchange for an honest review.
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Michael K. Williams was an impressive actor with an addiction who grew up in poverty.  In this memoir he wrote about his childhood in Brooklyn, his experiences with drugs and poverty (and being good friends with Queen Latifah).  He tells the story of his infamous scar, which made him more marketable in show business even though it clearly changed his life in other ways.  He discusses how he came to be on The Wire and his other shows (though not Hap and Leonard, which I would have been interested in hearing more about), his path from dancing to modeling to acting.  And a good portion he discusses his work helping children who have been victims of poverty, racism and a failed justice system.  This was slightly less than half of the book, and it was very inspiring. Though we lost Williams to his addiction, I hope his work lives on in his memory.
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Michael K Williams is one of my favorite actors ever, and he's played several of my favorite characters on TV. When he died, I was gutted. I was sad for days. I'm still sad. I knew about the work he was doing in the community and how inspiring he was to at-risk youths and selfishly, I wanted to see him do his thing for years to come. When I saw this memoir was coming out, nearly complete at the time of his death, it shot up in my most anticipated releases of the year. 

And it really delivered. MKW talks candidly about his upbringing, his confusion regarding his sexuality, how he was bullied as a child and found refuge in the arts and dancing, his descent into addiction, and some figures in his life that really set him straight. He details his journey from model to dancer to actor to community activist with poignancy, honesty, and wisdom. I feel like he really gets to the core of why art is so transformative, and so valuable, and why acting is such a powerful therapy tool for many (without a doubt, a lot of actors are working through their own baggage while playing roles). The way Williams discusses working through his trauma with the roles he's played, using Omar Little as a paper tiger to hide behind, using Freddy Knight from The Night Of as a mirror into his nephew's life and the life he could have had, using Montrose Freeman from Lovecraft Country as a way to explore generational trauma and how that his impacted his life, as well as many other examples, I really feel like this memoir is a love letter to the arts. 

The last 40% of the book really focuses on community outreach and things Michael had done to engage and give back to the communities he's lived in, the youth who need guidance, and other very admirable programs and events he's given his time to. He seemed like a very good person who was using his gifts to change lives. I would say that if this memoir had been complete and released as is, it'd be a four star, because there isn't enough depth on the personal level during all of this (he talks candidly about many topics, but the last 15ish years of his life are basically glanced over) and I personally just like more breadth of experience, this memoir was very short. But of course, it wasn't finished, and who knows how much MKW was planning on adding if he'd had time. Jon Sternfeld did an admirable job making this feel cohesive and final, as if it was intended to be this way all along.

If you like Michael K Williams, or want to learn more about how art can transform lives, or learn about some of the harrowing things that people go through in these rough, poverty-stricken neighborhoods, I cannot recommend this highly enough. Rest in Peace, Michael. Ay-yo, Omar Coming.
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A great personal story of someone who left this earth way too soon. Michael K Williams was a charismatic and gifted actor, my favorite character on The Wire.  I sought out other shows of his as his presence and passion on tv was spellbinding. I had no idea of his philanthropic work. Most people probably don’t know how much he gave back to his community, despite his fighting of demons.. So glad that interviewer Jon Sternfeld completed Michael's book based on his extensive interviews with Michael. So well done.
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Michael K. Williams has an incredible life story and it just ends...tragically. 

The rollercoaster ride of emotions Mike and Jon Sternfeld took me on was both exhilarating and sickening at times. One moment, I was sad for young Michael, the youngest son of a hardworking, tough mother loving her dark skinned son the way she was loved when compared to her light skinned son whom she praised. The next moment I wanted to protect him from his mom, the neighborhood goons and even himself. One minute, I'm happy to see him make his dreams come true and believe in himself despite the doubt of others. Then I'm sad when he turns to drugs for healing, escape and validation. The next moment, I'm proud when he chooses to enters rehab. Then I was disappointed with every relapse, numb to every entry into rehab and indifferent to each declaration of accountability. He says that "Being an addict means forward and back constantly. They're always one choice away." I was getting sick from the turbulence of his choices! 

In recent years, Michael began all this great activism work with juvenile offenders, prison reform and his non-profit for kids. In 2019, he says that he's ready to "be a beacon of light for  the youth." In June 2021, he declares "I don't want to be in the spotlight. I want to be the spotlight itself. Shine on others." On September 6, 2021, he was gone. Lost the fight with addiction. 

Michael shares some really great stories and it's inspiring to read about his journey and the people that inspired and touched his life as I know he was done for others. His battle with drug addiction is not an uncommon one nor was it shocking. Being a fan, I knew of his struggle with crack cocaine but his death hits different especially after reading his memoir where he expresses so much passion to change lives. Another Black man gone too soon whose beautiful legacy will live on.
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I loved Michael K. Williams in The Wire but I didn't know anything about him as a person. The news of his death last year shocked and saddened me. His memoir tells about his struggle with drug addiction, how he started as a backup dancer and eventually became an actor. His real purpose became helping the kids in his community to give them a chance to change what has become an endless cycle of black and brown kids becoming incarcerated or dying of violent crimes. He wanted to make a real difference and I think he was only getting started before he bought a drug that was laced with fentanyl and ended up losing his life. I will remember him for this work more than portraying Omar. A powerful memoir that I won't forget.
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This was a good look at the life of Michael K Williams, an actor most known for his role in the popular show The Wire.  He deals with themes of addiction, community and art as a healing tool.  I am a big fan of his, and not sure that others would want to read it if they didn't know of his work. It did encourage me to check out some of the more recent work he did, Black Market. So sad that he passed soon after finishing the book. I sort of wish that there was a chapter that talked about his death, possibly written by someone who know him well, perhaps Dana.
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Not really into the broad "celeb autobiography genre" as a concept but made an exception for this one. If nothing else, it is a small mercy that he got tell his own story in his own words.
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I enjoyed what I saw of Michael K. Williams’s acting even though I’ve never seen the shows for which he was most well-known (about to remedy that--just placed a hold on my library’s copy of The Wire). I was sorry when I learned of his death, but what made me most interested in reading this book was the high praise given to Williams by Wendell Pierce, one of his former costars and someone I respect.

This memoir had been worked on for over two years when he died, and was completed by his coauthor based on their interviews. Williams struggled throughout his life to overcome his childhood and addiction, and sadly never completely succeeded. From the accounts I’ve seen, he did succeed in becoming a very good actor whose roles sometimes caused problems in his own life, and a more open and empathetic man than most.

The book is a quick, if not emotionally easy, read. I think it slows down a little near the end when dealing with his social concerns and the work he'd started doing with children and prisoners. I wish he'd had more time for what he considered his most important work.

Thanks to Crown Publishing and NetGalley for the early copy to review.
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I’d like to thank netgalley and the publisher for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review. A stunning memoir told from a man gone way too soon. Painfully truthful, he hides nothing of his drug use, family life and everything in between. Finished this book in one sitting.
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I loved Michael K. Williams in Boardwalk Empire but I didn't know anything about him as a person. The news of his death on September 6, 2021 shocked and saddened me. His memoir tells about his struggle with drug addiction, how he started as a backup dancer and eventually became an actor. His real purpose became helping the kids in his community to give them a chance to change what has become an endless cycle of black and brown kids becoming incarcerated or dying of violent crimes. He wanted to make a real difference and I think he was only getting started before he bought a drug that was laced with fentanyl and ended up losing his life. I will remember him for this work more than portraying Chalky White. 
A powerful memoir that I won't forget.
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