This Is Where I Am
A look at the life that landed the writer in prison and a lost world recaptured
This is the memoir of Zeke Caligiuri, who grew up South Minneapolis in the 1990s when the city was dubbed “Murderapolis.” Currently in prison, Zeke’s story is a clear-eyed account of how he got from there to here, how a boy who had every hope went from dreaming of freedom to losing it, along with nearly everything and everyone he loved.
“An intimate, searing, and important document that makes no excuses for its subject’s life-choices and is all the more powerful for its honesty.”
—JOYCE CAROL OATES
Prison is where Zeke Caligiuri is. Powderhorn Park in South Minneapolis, dubbed “Murderapolis” the year he turned eighteen, is where he comes from. It was the same neighborhood his father grew up in but had changed dramatically by the early 1990s. Yet in Zeke’s family, father and mother and grandmother kept things together while all around them the houses decayed and once-safe streets gave way to the crush of poverty and crime.
This Is Where I Am is Zeke Caligiuri’s clear-eyed account of how he got from there to here, how a boy who had every hope went from dreaming of freedom to losing it, along with nearly everything and everyone he loved. Tenderhearted in its reflections on his lost childhood, brutally candid in its description of a life of hanging and hustling, Zeke’s memoir recreates a world of tagging and goofing gone awry, of moving from smoking pot to unsuccessful attempts at dealing crack, of watching his father weep at the funeral of a seventeen-year-old boy, of going to jail: first strike. It is a place where, when asked what he's going to do with his life, a friend can only answer: “What the fuck are you talking about?”
This Is Where I Am is Zeke's own answer: he is going to tell his story, every sharp detail and sobering word, with the natural grace of a gifted writer and the hard-won wisdom of hindsight.
This Is Where I Am is a fabulous book that maps out the real lives of the city and the neighborhoods, of real hopes that die and real dreams that resurrect. For every hour of joy or sorrow the common citizen experiences, Zeke Caligiuri aptly magnifies that same hour into an eternity of lives deeply lived and feared and loved and lost. Every school, judge, counselor, and policeman ought to read this book. Read it. Read it again. Read it until you understand that how we make and shape our society is our responsibility—all of ours.
Jimmy Santiago Baca, author of Singing at the Gates
Zeke Caligiuri's debut memoir, This Is Where I Am, soulfully evokes his childhood playgrounds and present-day prison cells—and situates him as a powerful new voice in contemporary literature, a voice that is at once literary and streetwise, with an ice-cold restraint that blisters the heart.
Matt Burgess, author of Uncle Janice and Dogfight, A Love Story
An intimate, searing, and important document that makes no excuses for its subject’s life-choices and is all the more powerful for its honesty.
Joyce Carol Oates
Caligiuri demonstrates a willingness and ability to look back and share his experiences without judgment or ego, which makes for a fascinating and moving account of one man’s incarceration and life.
Born and raised in the Powderhorn neighborhood, Caligiuri follows an all-too-familiar downward spiral: gang-banger friends + drugs + alcohol + guns = jail time. What is unexpected is the poetic curiosity Caligiuri exhibits in This Is Where I Am.
He’s brutally honest. In raw yet lyrical language, he attempts to explain how a once promising life went wrong.
Prologue: Rearranging Destiny
I. The Beginning
1. The Dodge Duster
2. An Orphan at Christmas
3. Granny in a Yellow Dress
4. On Pilgrimage
5. Monsters and Floral Print Skirts
6. Marching on the Third Precinct
II. Life: What I Would Be
7. Prayer and Resurrection
8. The Block Club
9. Fathers and Sons, Men and Boys
10. Class of 1996
11. The First Strike
12. Snapshots of Me and Her in New York
13. A House, a Neighborhood
14. From September to September
III. Death: Putting It Back Together
15. The Last Visit from the Girl in the Willow Tree
16. Walking into the Rest of My Life
17. The Only One Not There
18. Just Pictures
19. No Man’s Land
20. A Homecoming
Epilogue: This Is Where I Am