?

Log in

reading tiger

Reading Wednesday Is Pharmaceutically Enhanced

Last week, you may recall, I finished up "Who We Be" by Jeff Chang while sitting in a hospital bed after having many, many pictures taken of my insides.

"Who We Be" addresses the subject of "the colorization of America," that is, the attempts to visually represent the U.S. in its true racially diverse state since the Civil Rights Movement. Chang concentrates on fine arts and advertising, probably because other areas (e.g. TV) have already been well-discussed elsewhere and the book is already pretty darn hefty. The chapters on "I'd Like To Teach The World To Sing" and The United Colors of Bennetton are fascinating and definitely a new spin on two much-discussed topics. But I was equally compelled by the fine arts discussions precisely because they are so under-examined in general, and that makes them compelling. He illuminates some fascinating moments in cultural history.

As I mentioned in passing a few weeks ago, it was a hard book to read while protests broke out all over the country. It was hard to read how many of the arguments we are having right now over race and representation are the same arguments we've been having for decades. The same defenses, particularly. You know how that goes. But I'm glad I persevered.

Like "The Gentrification of the Mind," this book helped me put a shape to an era of our history I have lived through and interacted with (Chang's "Can't Stop Won't Stop" did much the same thing) -- it helped me see a pattern in a jumble of my own lived experience, and filled in the voids of what I didn't know was happening or informing what was happening at the time. It's a great book. I hope it gets the attention it deserves.

Now I am about 3/4 through "Last of the Live Nude Girls," a memoir by Sheila McClear. I thought I was done reading sex worker memoirs after publishing "The XY Conspiracy," but McClear is from Michigan and she was working the peeps, not the strip clubs, and I don't know, I acquired a fondness for her Internet writing (she works for Gawker among others), and her book is a good read. Maybe not particularly enlightening to some of us, but pleasantly familiar and droll. I am enjoying it a lot.

Comments