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The Artificial White Man: Essays on Authenticity.

The Artificial White Man: Essays on Authenticity by Stanley Crouch Basic Civitas, Books, October, 2004 $24., ISBN 0-465-01515-8

The mere mention of Stanley Crouch's name can raise the hairs on the back of your neck, particularly on those of race men and women. A dozen or so pages into his latest collection, Crouch sticks it to black nationalists with his charge that Dr. Frances Cress Welsing is "an intellectual buffoon of the first order." Now, if that isn't enough to infuriate true believers, the acerbic critic has more put-downs for black athletic "knot-heads" and "imbecilic" Farrakanians and Sharptonites.

Those able to endure Crouch's ideological insults will find one of the nation's finest wordsmiths at work, though reading him of Ion is like eating a tasty, scrumptious meal only to end up with heartburn and indigestion. His takes on the films of Quentin Tarantino, and on the literary legacies of Faulkner, Hemingway and Saul Bellow are masterfully wrought. Like Ralph Ellison, one of his acknowledged mentors, Crouch knows his way around file blues, and how to give verbal explanation to tonal expressions.

One of the most rewarding essays is a surprising salute to Michael Jackson, whom Crouch excoriated in a previous collection. On this occasion, he commends Jackson for going to the mat with Sony and the recording industry. "No matter how eccentric Michael Jackson is, no matter how self-serving his charges might seem, he is reviving an old story, full of exploited figures, that is still very much alive," Crouch observes.

If Crouch can find it in his soul to sketch more impressions such as this, perhaps the race committee will consider renewing his card. Until then, we are left with the notion that the title of this recent collection has more of an autobiographical ring than he intended.

Herb Boyd is the author of the recently published We Shall Overcome: A Living History of the Civil Rights Struggle Told in Words Pictures, and the Voices of the Participants (Sourcebooks, Inc. October 2004).
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Author:Boyd, Herb
Publication:Black Issues Book Review
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Nov 1, 2004
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