by Gabrielle Civil ‧ RELEASE DATE: Feb. 22, 2022
To be read, as the author suggests, like a dream: Garner what you can, and hopefully something new will unfurl in your mind.
An exuberant collection of texts and artifacts by a Black feminist performance artist.
In a disarmingly candid postscript, Civil, who teaches creative writing at CalArts, discusses her decision not to use a capital B for the word black when referring to race. Though she understands the impetus and values the gesture, "the déjà vu is my book…an attempt to reflect my voice, my inner life, and something about my time….I reserve the right to make different choices myself (even within the span of this text). I’m down for lowercase blackness, capital Blackness, all caps BLACKNESS, wild-style bLaCkNeSs, nourbeSe-N b l a c k N e s s, and other combinations." An unwavering commitment to upholding a unique personal aesthetic while exploring black dreams is the driving force behind this unusual book, a kind of archive or scrapbook of performance pieces, scripts, poems, conversations, collaborations, lectures, and essays. As in the postscript, the narrative touches at many points on the tensions created by recent changes in the way we use and interpret language. One standout piece, "Blue Flag," is a palindrome essay that unpacks the convoluted story of Civil's being asked to write an introduction to a reissue of Wanda Coleman’s 1977 chapbook, Art in the Court of the Blue Fag. Throughout the book, Civil also provides inspiring instructions and DIY rituals for readers. For example, she shares the advice of a friend who was trying to help her cut through indecision about taking an academic position. He told her to repeat to herself, "I’m Gabrielle Civil. Now start acting like it." To readers, the author suggests, "Switch out my name for yours, then repeat it. I’m ____________. Now start acting like it. See what happens. A speech act and a spell."To be read, as the author suggests, like a dream: Garner what you can, and hopefully something new will unfurl in your mind.
Pub Date: Feb. 22, 2022
Page Count: 320
Publisher: Coffee House
Review Posted Online: Jan. 10, 2022
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2022
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by Ta-Nehisi Coates ‧ RELEASE DATE: July 8, 2015
This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”
Awards & Accolades
Best Books Of 2015
New York Times Bestseller
National Book Award Winner
Pulitzer Prize Finalist
The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.
Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”
Pub Date: July 8, 2015
Page Count: 176
Publisher: Spiegel & Grau
Review Posted Online: May 5, 2015
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015
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Everything about Sabathia is larger than life, yet he tells his story with honesty and humility.
One of the best pitchers of his generation—and often the only Black man on his team—shares an extraordinary life in baseball.
A high school star in several sports, Sabathia was being furiously recruited by both colleges and professional teams when the death of his grandmother, whose Social Security checks supported the family, meant that he couldn't go to college even with a full scholarship. He recounts how he learned he had been drafted by the Cleveland Indians in the first round over the PA system at his high school. In 2001, after three seasons in the minor leagues, Sabathia became the youngest player in MLB (age 20). His career took off from there, and in 2008, he signed with the New York Yankees for seven years and $161 million, at the time the largest contract ever for a pitcher. With the help of Vanity Fair contributor Smith, Sabathia tells the entertaining story of his 19 seasons on and off the field. The first 14 ran in tandem with a poorly hidden alcohol problem and a propensity for destructive bar brawls. His high school sweetheart, Amber, who became his wife and the mother of his children, did her best to help him manage his repressed fury and grief about the deaths of two beloved cousins and his father, but Sabathia pursued drinking with the same "till the end" mentality as everything else. Finally, a series of disasters led to a month of rehab in 2015. Leading a sober life was necessary, but it did not tame Sabathia's trademark feistiness. He continued to fiercely rile his opponents and foment the fighting spirit in his teammates until debilitating injuries to his knees and pitching arm led to his retirement in 2019. This book represents an excellent launching point for Jay-Z’s new imprint, Roc Lit 101.Everything about Sabathia is larger than life, yet he tells his story with honesty and humility.
Pub Date: July 6, 2021
Page Count: 288
Publisher: Roc Lit 101
Review Posted Online: May 11, 2021
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021
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