Going Too Far: Essays about America's Nervous Breakdown

Ishmael Reed. Baraka (IPG, dist.), $19.95 trade paper (238p) ISBN 978-1-926824-56-7
In this collection of previously published essays, interviews, and skits, poet, novelist, and essayist Reed (Another Day at the Front) takes the opportunity to let off steam about issues both social (the persistence of racism) and personal (his Internet brawl with Salon.com's Joan Walsh over an op-ed column he wrote for the New York Times). Reed tackles the Tea Party's shockingly racist antics, Obama's accomplishments, feminism's effect on the black male image, the Occupy Movement—to varying results. Reed is best when he historicizes, as in his essay "Ethnic Studies in the Age of the Tea Party," and when he draws on the more rational, even-tempered voices of others, as in his interviews with Terry McMillan and Nuruddin Farah. But when he does what he sets out to do—go too far—he is at his worst, as in his scathing essays on the film Precious. Many readers will find some affinity with Reed's work, but his rhetoric can be too inflammatory (he calls Tea Partiers the "T-shirts"—"America's equivalent of Hitler's Brown Shirts," and derides "wealthy white progressive women") to comfortably digest—which, presumably, is exactly as Reed would have it. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 11/05/2012
Release date: 09/01/2012
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