The interviews need not be read in order because each can stand on its own.

ON RACE

34 CONVERSATIONS IN A TIME OF CRISIS

Yancy (Philosophy/Emory Univ.; Look, A White!: Philosophical Essays on Whiteness, 2012, etc.) conducts interviews with fellow philosophy professors and other thinkers in order to illuminate reasons for enduring racial divides and perhaps arrive at constructive paths forward.

The author, who is black, regularly shares his perspectives on race with general readerships, and he hopes this collection of interview transcripts will increase accessibility to learned perspectives. For the most part, the transcripts are enlightening and jargon free, but occasionally, the discussions become densely academic—e.g., when Yancy and some of his interviewees discuss the role of professional philosophers in reducing racial discrimination. The best-known interviewees include Cornel West, bell hooks, Kwame Anthony Appiah, Noam Chomsky, and Peter Singer. Insights about race emerge from each entry, including interviews about racial issues in nations other than the United States, especially Australia and the United Kingdom. Placing racial hatreds within the context of capitalism is one of many strengths of the book. Interviews with Traci C. West and Charles Johnson examine the intersection between racial divides and organized religions, a perspective too often minimized or omitted in national conversations. The discussion between Yancy and Appiah stands out for its thread that no society has achieved the goal of true racial equality. Furthermore, as these conversations show, prejudices often extend to people beyond the black/white binary, and there are numerous insights into the significance of Black Lives Matter. In the book’s introduction, Yancy explains how the election of Donald Trump led to an urgency to address white nationalism, as so many of the book’s 34 sections do. Yancy believes speaking out candidly involves risks in such a politicized atmosphere. As a result, he terms the interviews “dangerous conversations.”

The interviews need not be read in order because each can stand on its own.

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-19-049855-9

Page Count: 408

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: June 13, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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An erudite and artful, though frustratingly restrained, look at Old Testament stories.

THE BOOK OF GENESIS ILLUSTRATED

The Book of Genesis as imagined by a veteran voice of underground comics.

R. Crumb’s pass at the opening chapters of the Bible isn’t nearly the act of heresy the comic artist’s reputation might suggest. In fact, the creator of Fritz the Cat and Mr. Natural is fastidiously respectful. Crumb took pains to preserve every word of Genesis—drawing from numerous source texts, but mainly Robert Alter’s translation, The Five Books of Moses (2004)—and he clearly did his homework on the clothing, shelter and landscapes that surrounded Noah, Abraham and Isaac. This dedication to faithful representation makes the book, as Crumb writes in his introduction, a “straight illustration job, with no intention to ridicule or make visual jokes.” But his efforts are in their own way irreverent, and Crumb feels no particular need to deify even the most divine characters. God Himself is not much taller than Adam and Eve, and instead of omnisciently imparting orders and judgment He stands beside them in Eden, speaking to them directly. Jacob wrestles not with an angel, as is so often depicted in paintings, but with a man who looks not much different from himself. The women are uniformly Crumbian, voluptuous Earth goddesses who are both sexualized and strong-willed. (The endnotes offer a close study of the kinds of power women wielded in Genesis.) The downside of fitting all the text in is that many pages are packed tight with small panels, and too rarely—as with the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah—does Crumb expand his lens and treat signature events dramatically. Even the Flood is fairly restrained, though the exodus of the animals from the Ark is beautifully detailed. The author’s respect for Genesis is admirable, but it may leave readers wishing he had taken a few more chances with his interpretation, as when he draws the serpent in the Garden of Eden as a provocative half-man/half-lizard. On the whole, though, the book is largely a tribute to Crumb’s immense talents as a draftsman and stubborn adherence to the script.

An erudite and artful, though frustratingly restrained, look at Old Testament stories.

Pub Date: Oct. 19, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-393-06102-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2009

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THE MYTH OF SISYPHUS

AND OTHER ESSAYS

This a book of earlier, philosophical essays concerned with the essential "absurdity" of life and the concept that- to overcome the strong tendency to suicide in every thoughtful man-one must accept life on its own terms with its values of revolt, liberty and passion. A dreary thesis- derived from and distorting the beliefs of the founders of existentialism, Jaspers, Heldegger and Kierkegaard, etc., the point of view seems peculiarly outmoded. It is based on the experience of war and the resistance, liberally laced with Andre Gide's excessive intellectualism. The younger existentialists such as Sartre and Camus, with their gift for the terse novel or intense drama, seem to have omitted from their philosophy all the deep religiosity which permeates the work of the great existentialist thinkers. This contributes to a basic lack of vitality in themselves, in these essays, and ten years after the war Camus seems unaware that the life force has healed old wounds... Largely for avant garde aesthetes and his special coterie.

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 1955

ISBN: 0679733736

Page Count: 228

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1955

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