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Chang’s exquisite history examines the process by which the vernacular—an authentic art form—inevitably becomes the massified—various commodities mimicking cultural expression. This book covers every facet of hip-hop culture: scratching, breaking, tagging, rapping, MCing, DJing, and the rise of record labels, are explored with insightful care and critique. Chang’s holistic perspective and grassroots approach results in an artist’s and listener’s history of a truly American phenomenon. The analysis provided throughout these pages is beyond provocative—this book makes you rethink your conceptualization of both hip-hop and popular music/culture.
Whenever I find myself struggling to fully unpack a poem—which, if we are being honest, is often a daily experience—I reach for this collection of lectures. Ruefle writes in a colloquial, yet somehow theoretical, language. These lectures are wise, silly, and at various times, frightening. They will remain fixed within the brain long after their final words are consumed. Though one often wishes for resolution—especially when attempting to comprehend a poem and or poetry—Ruefle’s lectures deliver a pleasant opposite. Even when the poet is attempting to expose those various issues central to the existence and workings of poetry, Ruefle simultaneously respects the necessity for certain questions to remain unanswered. A must-read for any and all lovers of poetry.
With sincere adoration and an exhaustive critical scope, Buell investigates those American works which have become integral components in our nation’s striving to better understand itself. The book’s excavation goes beyond a terminology of the "Greats" or "Greatness." Instead, Buell witnesses both the novel and its posturing within American culture as the result of a particular writer’s imaginative capacity to encapsulate. Morrison, Fitzgerald, Lee, Stowe, and Pynchon are just some of the few writers taken up for consideration. In committing to such a difficult and problematic task, Buell reimagines the skeletal framework of American literature. As a result thereof, the definition of artistry is drastically changed to be far more inclusive and one might even suggest, moral. If you have ever wondered why "Beloved" or "Moby-Dick" is supposedly one of the greatest American novels, spend some time with Buell—he will enlighten and excite in manners often overlooked.
In the contemporary era of smart phones, mass media, rampant political grotesqueries, preconceived judgements based off of appearances, and the split of Brad and Angelina, what does one have to sing praise of, or for? In the case of Olds, there is still a great deal of singing left to be sung. One’s thoughts, body, friends, lovers, and best of all, sense of self, are still worthy of versified adoration. With an intense subjectivity, Olds writes in a style that is anything but demure. Free in both form and wit, this collection is filled with wry, awkward, and unique observations. Odes to the various essences of femininity and heteronormative feminine relationships offer an astounding view of what it means to be a female in relation to one’s age. As if that were not enough, you will be laughing every page.
Though admitting such may be an act of blasphemy, I had yet to read any Keith Taylor poetry until this collection (gasp!). Alas, I now find myself angry at past Bennet. Throughout these poems Keith exposes the reader to a bevy of images, noises, and best of all, revelations. There are startling little surprises within every poem. Whether it be the timbering of antique trees or observations felt while peeing outside on a cold night, Keith’s speakers go to those places most often hide from. It is with sincere honesty and an unabashed desire to exhibit the difficult that this collection grips any who read it.
Elkin’s history of the subversive and exclamatory manners by which women walk throughout urban spaces is as exhilarating as it is necessary. From Jean Rhys to Martha Gellhorn, this book surgically deconstructs the sexist conceptualizations of flanuerie and replaces them with something more informed, subtle. I found myself rereading passages over and over again—there is a musicality to these arguments which makes them unshakable. A blurring of memoir, literary theory, and gender studies, “Flanuese” is an honest, and insightful read for anyone who wishes to fully comprehend the artistry of strolling about town.