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Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Black Man

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  106 Ratings  ·  9 Reviews
"This is a book of stories," writes Henry Louis Gates, "and all might be described as 'narratives of ascent.'" As some remarkable men talk about their lives, many perspectives on race and gender emerge. For the notion of the unitary black man, Gates argues, is as imaginary as the creature that the poet Wallace Stevens conjured in his poem "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Bla ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published February 3rd 1998 by Vintage (first published 1997)
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Mar 06, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Any brother or sister
I learned that crisis doesn't define us, and success or fame doesn't redefine us, but that complexity and diversity, not cultural cynicism, make us all the wonder of masculinity that we are...
Bernard Norcott-mahany
Dec 21, 2010 rated it it was amazing
A friend of mine once said that it gave him great joy to watch a professional at work. I would say that Prof. Gates takes great joy in what he does, and that, coupled with hard work and a sensitive eye and ear, produce works like this -- portraits of several prominent African-American males. These profiles were done as pieces for "The New Yorker." Still, though they were done for a magazine, and not a peer-reviewed journal, you can tell that Prof. Gates is a professor -- he wears his learning li ...more
I had put off reading this book because I expected it to be a dry sociology text, but it was actually a collection of mini-biographies or portraits of notable black men. The stories themselves were interesting, but I didn't like the way each chapter was organized (i.e., seemed to be written in one shot without thought for organization or cohesion), and the author frequently used language that most people, even college graduates, would not understand.
Blaire Malkin
Feb 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
Especially liked the essay re the Simpson verdict, particularly with the mini-series airing and it being back in the news. Portraits of men some of who I already knew a lot about (such as Baldwin) and others very little (such broyard). I think these were mostly originally New Yorker essays but I had not previously read them.
Aug 07, 2010 marked it as to-read
This is one of those books I had high on my mental list--only to have it supplanted by something else.
Just in time as I finished up "Kafka was the Rage," I started reading his essay on Anatole Broyard's history of "passing."
Aug 02, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: our-own-copy
The title essay, about the OJ Simpson trial and the million man march among other things, is particularly interesting considering the trouble he had with the Cambridge Police lately. It's an excellent collection of essays overall.
Feb 07, 2013 rated it liked it
Best essay was on Anatole Broyard.
Dec 11, 2008 marked it as to-read
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Apr 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
There are two quick takes I have from this book: I have never seen the perspective of life as a black person the way I did in this book, and I am amazed at how pertinent this book is 20 years later.

There is always more than one way to look at a subject, something we fail at constantly, and Gates does just that in this collection of essays. I would be remiss if I didn't add that I better understand why he reacted the way he did in 2009 and why the police failed to act appropriately.

This book is
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Henry Louis Gates Jr. is a Professor of African and African-American Studies at Harvard University and Director of the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research. He is well-known as a literary critic, an editor of literature, and a proponent of black literature and black cultural studies.
More about Henry Louis Gates Jr.

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