Speed Reading - Page 2

83 Days of Radiation Sickness, The Photographs of Stanley Marcus, essays by LeRoi Jones (Amiri Baraka), and stories by Ed Bullins
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A Slow Death

(Huston)

HOME: SOCIAL ESSAYS

By Leroi Jones (Amiri Baraka)

Akashic Books

282 pages

$15.95

THE HUNGERED ONE

By Ed Bullins

Akashic Books

192 pages

$14.95

I didn't ask, so don't tell me why queers have come to be the fashionable sacrificial stooges for pandering new Democratic presidents. For some overstanding on the matter, read Amiri Baraka's intro to the most recent edition of Home: Social Essays, a collection he wrote between 1961 and 1966 as Leroi Jones. Anyone familiar with reprints of Jones's autobiographical works knows that they afford Baraka with a chance to engage in scathing (and sometimes funny) multileveled assessments of his past writings and views. Here, he leaps right into a critique of his past use of the word "fag" that insinuates tribute (without naming names) to some of the strong, influential queers he's worked with over the years. It's a prescient genuine act, but characteristic — Baraka was calling Obama "slick" years ago at a City Lights reading.

Baraka also writes a preface for a reprint of Ed Bullins' story collection The Hungered One, but it's Bullins' introduction that makes an impression, because of its open-ended refusal of readings that interpret (and thus restrict) the title tale as an allegory. The Hungered One is filled with pieces that do exactly what they set out to do — "An Ancient One," for example, perfectly renders a city scene that happens in front of my building every day of the year. But it's that title story — more horrifying than anything a genre writer like Stephen King has imagined — that lingers. It's as uncanny as a nightmare, and as real as human nature. (Huston)