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WHY MUST A BLACK WRITER WRITE ABOUT SEX? by Dany Laferrière

WHY MUST A BLACK WRITER WRITE ABOUT SEX?

By Dany Laferrière

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 1994
ISBN: 0-88910-482-4

 A follow-up to the controversial novel How to Make Love to a Negro (not reviewed), and a hard look at race, sex, class, and fame in America. When ``an influential East Coast magazine'' commissioned a long article from Laferriäre, he took it as an opportunity to crisscross America. This assemblage of field notes from his travels covers such diverse subjects as his return to the bar where he hung out as a struggling writer; the Nigerian taxi driver who criticizes his work as a betrayal of his race (he replies that defending his people ``doesn't make for good writing'' and all he cares about is ``fall, decadence, frustration, bitterness, the bile that keeps us alive''); the beautiful blonde who insists that life with her African lover involves feelings as well as sex; the young black who complains that he gives too much press to white women and cajoles him to write about her next. Laferriäre also takes a moment to fill us in on the diverse reactions to How to Make Love to a Negro (one woman threw a glass of wine in his face; another had the title tattooed on her body) and his impressions of everyone from Miles Davis to Ice Cube, who argues that blacks are still slaves while Laferriäre believes that they have created contemporary America together with whites. If this sounds like a series of snapshots, even the author admits that it is: ``American reality...is more cinema than novel, more jump cut than dissolve, scenes that run over each other and don't follow any logical sequence...This book is no exception.'' (See also the review in this issue of Laferriäre's novel, Dining with the Dictator, p. 1295.) The strange mix of humor, honesty, impertinence, and self-importance may satisfy Laferriäre's dedicated fans, but most readers will find it about as meaningful as a one-night stand.