At one point, Row suggests that calling South Dakota’s Black Hills mountain range by the name the Lakota call it, “Khe Sapa,” might be a way of registering racial injustice.
“Is it a self-conscious and ludicrous performance of guilt? “Maybe I sound like Kevin Costner, in ‘Dancing With Wolves.’” Reading this, I can’t but feel that if one must wonder at such a thing, you should think twice about writing it.
“My parents made sure I knew never to go up there, not for any reason.”The effect of literary white flight is to regulate the American imagination and reproduce racialized power.
Flight allows whiteness to function as if it were universal, a stand-in for “human,” rather than a particular racial category that relies on blackness for its expression.
to the degree they can be named, understood, redescribed, even satirized,” he writes, charting the critical ground he hopes to cover.
Confession isn’t as generative for him as what he calls “the inner racial life of Americans,” an “unconscious life embodied in American fictions, which often sustains, and sometimes undermines, the political conditions of white supremacy the country still inhabits.”If, as Row puts it, American fiction most often addresses race through silences and omissions, he wants to force these silences to speak, to reveal themselves as self-serving — meant to protect white supremacy.Despite, or perhaps because of, these flaws and the discomfort they inspire, we should accompany Row through this important inquiry.was done in two batches, suggesting that Jonson was still at work revising this play when the folio printing began, though some revision could have taken place earlier. For all of these inventive and insightful readings, however, it’s unfortunate that Row does not suggest concrete strategies for intervening in the stalled conversation he picks apart.When he recommends specific texts — Theresa Cha’s experimental novel “Dictee,” James Alan Mc Pherson’s classic story “Elbow Room” or James Baldwin’s “Another Country” — his glosses fail to identify what, on an aesthetic level, makes these titles worthy of admiration.Literary white flight — into imagined worlds from which black people and the urgent questions their presence begs have been absented — is no less a matter of power.Row demonstrates this through astute close readings in which he analyzes postwar fiction with a loving sternness that avoids didacticism even as he pingpongs among cultural artifacts, decoding everything from Don De Lillo’s “Underworld” to emo music.In any case, it seems beside the point to uphold writers of color who do this work, as they have since the nation’s founding, when Row’s chief concern is that white writers should develop their own means for thinking critically about race.It doesn’t help that the book includes some fumbling gestures.What Row desires is fiction that acknowledges the ways in which Americans are entwined with one another physically, psychically and socially.In the ambitious experimental essay “Parts of Us Not Made at Home,” he attempts to model such writing by delving into his own interracial background.