An intriguing collection of layered, frolicsome drawings.

READ REVIEW

39 DRAWINGS

Innocent (The Great Messiah, 2015) displays some of his teenage work in this book of sketches and word art.

Torn from the pages of his teen notebooks (sometimes with the binder holes still visible along the margins), these images provide a glimpse into the passions and fixations of the visual artist. The centrality of written language is especially evident: words appear in nearly every piece, and about half of the works contain no images other than words. One reads: “Unable to move. / Incapable de bouger. / Incapaz de moverse.” Another simply, “Lee Harvey Oswald / John Wilkes Booth,” with check marks next to each name. The African-American experience is central to the work. “Word black lingers everytime I accomplish something,” says one. Another: “Descendant of Cotton Pickers.” A black and red drawing of a grotesque, stylized face features the caption “Origin of Negros.” Innocent’s own artistic ambitions are also a recurring subject. One page contains a dialogue exchange between Innocent and someone named Nick, in which the former predicts, “I know I’m going to be a famous artist and I think I’m going to die young.” Simple drawings of figures and objects in red or black pencil, sometimes shaded in with a childish dash of color, typify the more figurative offerings. In terms of pure visual power, this is not the most striking collection of art one could find. Even so, Innocent has a poet’s gift for precision, and the way he literally writes his words (with some letters rendered backward, or phrases crossed out and reworded) highlight the text and the thought process behind it in captivating ways. The book certainly captures the angst-ridden teen aesthetic, with references to algebra, muscle groupings, fluoride, and various philosophers suggesting an artist doodling his way through his high school classes, snatching interesting ideas and images from the air. The use of lists and Scrabble-like word junctions furthers Innocent’s playful deconstruction of language. One might not give these works a second glance if they were found crumpled beneath a desk, but collected here these dashed-off musings take on a potent and thought-provoking quality.

An intriguing collection of layered, frolicsome drawings.

Pub Date: June 19, 2017

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 42

Publisher: Powerhouse

Review Posted Online: Nov. 28, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Not an easy read but an essential one.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2019

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

HOW TO BE AN ANTIRACIST

Title notwithstanding, this latest from the National Book Award–winning author is no guidebook to getting woke.

In fact, the word “woke” appears nowhere within its pages. Rather, it is a combination memoir and extension of Atlantic columnist Kendi’s towering Stamped From the Beginning (2016) that leads readers through a taxonomy of racist thought to anti-racist action. Never wavering from the thesis introduced in his previous book, that “racism is a powerful collection of racist policies that lead to racial inequity and are substantiated by racist ideas,” the author posits a seemingly simple binary: “Antiracism is a powerful collection of antiracist policies that lead to racial equity and are substantiated by antiracist ideas.” The author, founding director of American University’s Antiracist Research and Policy Center, chronicles how he grew from a childhood steeped in black liberation Christianity to his doctoral studies, identifying and dispelling the layers of racist thought under which he had operated. “Internalized racism,” he writes, “is the real Black on Black Crime.” Kendi methodically examines racism through numerous lenses: power, biology, ethnicity, body, culture, and so forth, all the way to the intersectional constructs of gender racism and queer racism (the only section of the book that feels rushed). Each chapter examines one facet of racism, the authorial camera alternately zooming in on an episode from Kendi’s life that exemplifies it—e.g., as a teen, he wore light-colored contact lenses, wanting “to be Black but…not…to look Black”—and then panning to the history that informs it (the antebellum hierarchy that valued light skin over dark). The author then reframes those received ideas with inexorable logic: “Either racist policy or Black inferiority explains why White people are wealthier, healthier, and more powerful than Black people today.” If Kendi is justifiably hard on America, he’s just as hard on himself. When he began college, “anti-Black racist ideas covered my freshman eyes like my orange contacts.” This unsparing honesty helps readers, both white and people of color, navigate this difficult intellectual territory.

Not an easy read but an essential one.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-50928-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: One World/Random House

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

UNTAMED

More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

more