A disquieting, deeply thoughtful cultural critique.

WHITE FLIGHTS

RACE, FICTION, AND THE AMERICAN IMAGINATION

Wide-ranging, erudite, and impassioned essays examine whiteness and literature.

Whiting Award winner Row (English/Coll. of New Jersey; Your Face in Mine, 2014, etc.) melds memoir, literary and cultural criticism, and philosophical reflection in seven essays that examine how whiteness is imagined and represented in “novels, short stories, films [and] plays.” As a white writer with a complicated racial identity and father to two multiracial children, Row is troubled by the way fiction “reflects and sustains” notions of whiteness as “normal, neutral, and central.” How do fiction writers, even unconsciously, perpetuate racism? Is it possible for fiction to contribute to a process of reconciliation and reparation? Reparative writing asks writers “to bring their own sadness or their own bodies into play when writing about race or racism,” including feelings of “paralysis, isolation, or alienation.” In his view, the white American literary community—which he reveals by examining a prodigious number of writers, scholars, and critics—rather than struggling to express these deep-seated feelings, takes on “postures of avoidance and denial.” This avoidance, Row asserts, is a form of “white flight,” a term usually associated with “abandonment of the ideals of integration” by whites fleeing urban African American, Latinx, or immigrant communities to suburban homes surrounded by “enormous lawns” that serve as “a buffer or barrier.” Applied to writing, “white flight” encapsulates “the desire not to have one’s visual field constantly invaded by inconveniently different faces—relationships that are fraught, unfixed, capable of producing equal measures of helplessness and guilt.” Row’s urgent desire to confront questions of race is compelled in part by his own background, which he shares in engrossing autobiographical vignettes. On one side of his family, his ancestors were among the first white settlers on land forcibly taken from the Lakota; on the other were immigrants from the racially mixed Azores. But his concern transcends his own background: Is it possible, he wonders, for white writers ever to escape “the horror of performing within the family romance of whiteness”? Though the lit-crit language may turn off some readers, this is a significant contribution to the cultural landscape.

A disquieting, deeply thoughtful cultural critique.

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-55597-832-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Graywolf

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD

A LIFETIME OF RECORDINGS

Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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