introducing readers to writers since 1995

October 08, 2004

Crouch's Interviewer Not Happy with Beatrice, Either

by Ron Hogan

The comments are heating up today:'s Amy Alexander adds her two cents (scroll down for it) in defense of Stanley Crouch and her willful assistance in his self-aggrandizement. I'd be a bit more impressed if the email address she left on her comment was valid (see the first comment to THIS post), but whatever. And I'm not convinced by her rationale that Don't the Moon Look Lonesome is a fall title that came out in July because "Vintage and other publishers for the past few years have regularly sent out fall titles starting in the summer or sometimes even in late spring;" as far as I'm concerned, if it comes out in the summer, it's a summer release. Again, whatever.

The real meat of the complaint comes in the following paragraphs, where she assumes my lack of interest in her questions, as opposed to Crouch's responses, "simply proves my theory about the BLOGOSPHERE in general, AND about blogs that originate in the hot-house, echo-chamber, jerk off capital of the New York, Boston, Washington, D.C. insulated and insular media corridor don't provide a single thing to readers interested in ANYTHING OF DEPTH concerning black Americans." Which either convinces me that she hasn't been reading Beatrice very long or doesn't consider black chick lit, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Aaron McGruder, or Michael Eric Dyson interesting, because I've written about them. (Admittedly not "in depth" by, say, John McPhee standards, but then I don't write about anything with that degree of depth here; it's a blog.)

More troublesome, the subsequent charge that I'm part of some cabal of blogs "so freaking hip, so postmodern, that you can actually MAKE FUN of black Americans under the guise of being BEYOND old racial tropes, and yet NONE of you ever bother to hire black writers or editors" or "COMMISSION articles, essays, etc., by black writers, columnists, etc." Ms. Alexander, I don't hire or commission pieces from anybody, because Beatrice is a one-man show...or didn't you notice that nobody but "editor" seems to post here? And the only two things I make fun of anybody for here are bad writing and bad actions. At least that's the ideal I strive for; if Norman Mailer had slapped Dale Peck, he'd be treated just as roughly here--in fact, when Richard Ford spit on Colson Whitehead, I did have something to say about it--and Paul Maher gets critically savaged just as badly as Michael Eric Dyson. If you don't like it when your favorite black authors get criticized, find better black authors. I recommend Stephen Carter, E. Lynn Harris, and Samuel Delany.


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UPDATE: Amy Alexander emailed back: "I sent my initial post the other day from our public library here in St. Paul, which is probably why you got no response or a weird response when you tried to use it; my correct email address is [redacted]." Why she didn't just type that email address into the appropriate box on the comment form, I don't know, but go figure.

Posted by: editor at October 8, 2004 04:02 PM

Don't forget Percival Everett, though he doesn't like to be labeled a black author.

Posted by: Dan Wickett at October 8, 2004 10:59 PM

I haven't had the pleasure of reading him yet, but I'll take your word for it!

Posted by: editor at October 8, 2004 10:59 PM

Black author meaning having dark skin, yes?

Here's some more:

Jeffrey Renard Allen
Alice Randall
Colson Whitehead
Chinua Achebe
Gar Haywood/Ray Shannon
Toni Morrison
Walter Mosley
John Ridley
Mat Johnson
ZZ Packer
Wole Soyinko
Will Haywood
Caryl Phillips
Edward Jones
Jamaica Kincaid
Edwidge Danticat

to name a few.

Posted by: birnbaum at October 9, 2004 06:49 AM

And those are just the authors he's interviewed!

Posted by: Dan Wickett at October 9, 2004 09:22 AM

I'd also mention Calvin Baker, whose youngish but an amazing writer. We were friends in college, where he studied with Caryl Phillips. His most recent novel is Once Two Heroes, and biased though I admittedly am, I thought it deserved more attention than it received.

Posted by: CAAF at October 9, 2004 09:26 AM

By the way, if anybody has any suggestions for a well-written book-themed blog created by a blatantly self-identifying "black writer" I can add to the blogroll, fire away and I'll take a look. It would make Amy Alexander happy...though I must say I find her assumption that all the bloggers on my blogroll are "white," when she knows very little if anything about them, very, very prejudiced of her. As is her assumption that the only subject of interest to "black writers" would be "black culture."

Posted by: editor at October 9, 2004 12:13 PM

Read the bulk of Everett's work and you'll realize just how foolish her assumption is. Besides "Erasure," which takes on that very idea, none of his books is specifically about black culture.

Posted by: Dan Wickett at October 9, 2004 12:19 PM

Amen to Dan's remark's about Percival, "Damned if I Do", coming out (or already) out via Graywolf Press.

Posted by: birnbaum at October 9, 2004 01:32 PM


It's in stores now, a local Borders actually had about eight copies of it (though they were placed on the table highlighting African-American fiction, next to the Dickey's and the like. I'm sure he'd be thrilled.


Posted by: Dan Wickett at October 9, 2004 02:10 PM

I just happen to stumble on this website after a few weeks and look what I see.Wow.

Either someone is intent on embarrasing Stanley Crouch or he is the sorriest little pseudo intellectual gangsta I have ever read in my life. Dont let it bug you, he's said and done worse to many people.

Once again, wow. How little. How petty. How little and petty. I'll probably say a little more on the subject.

Posted by: robert lashley at October 9, 2004 06:27 PM

Supplementing Birnbaum's list:
It's Soyinka, no?
Nalo Hopkinson
Gayl Jones
Don Belton
Mel Watkins
Paule Marshall
. . . and there may be some earlier Dyson prose that was not, how do you say it, phoned in . . .

Posted by: Josh Lukin at October 10, 2004 03:24 AM

Right you are Josh. As Billy Wilder and Anthony Lane attest, nobody's perfect:

Patricia Powell
Octavia Butler

Posted by: birnbaum at October 10, 2004 06:24 AM

Has Don Belton published anything besides his first novel? That, from what I remember (I read it when he was a visiting prof. at UM back in 88), was a really good book and I've never seen it, or any others, since.

Nettie Jones wrote a couple of really good novels back around that time frame as well.


Posted by: Dan Wickett at October 10, 2004 07:39 AM

Oh, and don't forget Gloria Naylor, whose Mama Day is one of my all-time favorites.

Posted by: CAAF at October 10, 2004 08:11 AM

No black bloggers? Tsk. Now that's a goddamned shame. Follow the link, kiddies.

Posted by: Cobb at October 10, 2004 05:28 PM

Two points of clarification. First, I never suggested there were no black bloggers writing about books, just that I hadn't found any and welcomed suggestions--although I guess you could just be chastising the audience for not having come up with any names on their own.

Second, as well-written as your blog seems to be now that I'm looking at it, it's not book-themed. It's good, and I recommend folks follow the link--it'll probably shake up a lot of my readers, but that's not a bad thing--but it's not quite the blog I was looking for.

Posted by: editor at October 10, 2004 05:42 PM

A really good black blog, in my estimation, is Negrophile. Chock fulla links, along with relevant news stories and commentary you probably wouldn't find elsewhere.

Posted by: Gabrielle Daniels at October 11, 2004 11:04 AM

Percival Everett is an author who happens to be black.

Posted by: Gabrielle Daniels at October 11, 2004 11:06 AM
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