NO GO THE BOGEYMAN

SCARING, LULLING, AND MAKING MOCK

Warner continues her erudite and entertaining investigation of fairy tales (begun in From the Beast to the Blonde, 1995) in a new study of the pleasure we derive from the fearful figures in tales and songs. Novelist and scholar Warner shifts her focus here to the mostly male characters, like ogres and the bogeyman. But the truer subject is fear itself and the “ambiguous satisfactions of scariness.” In an eclectic survey that ranges from classical myth to pulp fiction, from Fra Angelico to Quentin Tarantino, and with a wonderful selection of 100 vivid illustrations, Warner examines the undeniable attraction that fear has held for the young and the old throughout Western history. Warner’s learned yet stylish and funny narrative jumps easily in time from ancient Greece to modern Hollywood. To manage the wide-ranging material thematically, Warner divides her text into three sections. In “Scaring,” she looks at the monsters, ogres, and bogeyman figures who fill our tales, eating human flesh and acting as alter egos. “Lulling,” examines the cradle songs that have been traditionally sung to soothe and protect infants and, as Warner points out, to allow frustrated parents and nannies an opportunity to vent their anger. Finally, “Making Mock” explores the role of comedy as a bulwark against fear. Warner offers a fresh perspective on how fantastic terrors are used in tales to allay real ones. One of the most refreshing and poignant of Warner’s contributions is her unsentimental observations on contemporary life, especially modern childhood. Dinosaur-shaped cookies and stuffed animals in the form of hideous insects play as much a role in her analysis of managed fear as do the very real stresses that modern childhood places on parents and the family. Warner’s compelling study of how we deal with fears through stories will be enjoyed equally by cultural historians and by any parent who has observed a child delighted by Beatrix Potter’s Roly Poly Pudding or by Sendak’s Wild Things.

Pub Date: Feb. 14, 1999

ISBN: 0-374-22301-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1999

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Not an easy read but an essential one.

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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

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A sharp, compelling, and impassioned book.

WHY I'M NO LONGER TALKING TO WHITE PEOPLE ABOUT RACE

A London-based journalist offers her perspective on race in Britain in the early 21st century.

In 2014, Eddo-Lodge published a blog post that proclaimed she was “no longer engaging with white people on the topic of race.” After its viral reception, she realized that her mission should be to do the opposite, so she actively began articulating, rather than suppressing, her feelings about racism. In the first chapter, the author traces her awakening to the reality of a brutal British colonial history and the ways that history continues to impact race relations in the present, especially between blacks and the police. Eddo-Lodge analyzes the system that has worked against blacks and kept them subjugated to laws that work against—rather than for—them. She argues that it is not enough to deconstruct racist structures. White people must also actively see race itself by constantly asking “who benefits from their race and who is disproportionately impacted by negative stereotypes.” They must also understand the extent of the privileges granted them because of their race and work through racist fears that, as British arch-conservative Enoch Powell once said, “the black man will [one day] have the whip hand over the white man.” Eddo-Lodge then explores the fraught question of being a black—and therefore, according to racist stereotype—“angry” female and the ways her “assertiveness, passion and excitement” have been used against her. In examining the relationship between race and class, the author further notes the way British politicians have used the term “white” to qualify working class. By leaving out reference to other members of that class, they “compound the currency-like power of whiteness.” In her probing and personal narrative, Eddo-Lodge offers fresh insight into the way all racism is ultimately a “white problem” that must be addressed by commitment to action, no matter how small. As she writes, in the end, “there's no justice, there's just us.”

A sharp, compelling, and impassioned book.

Pub Date: Dec. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4088-7055-6

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Sept. 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2017

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