Always in Pursuit: Fresh American Perspectives [NOOK Book]


  As a cultural and political commentator, Stanley Crouch in unapologetically contentious and delightfully iconoclastic. Whether he is writing on the uniqueness of the American South, the death of Tupak Shakur, the O.J. Simpson verdict, or the damage done by the Oklahoma City bombing, Crouch's high-velocity exchange with American culture is conducted with scrupulous allegiance to the truth, even when it hurtsand it usually does. And on the subject of jazzfrom Sidney Bechet to Billy Strayhorn, Duke ...

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Always in Pursuit: Fresh American Perspectives

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  As a cultural and political commentator, Stanley Crouch in unapologetically contentious and delightfully iconoclastic. Whether he is writing on the uniqueness of the American South, the death of Tupak Shakur, the O.J. Simpson verdict, or the damage done by the Oklahoma City bombing, Crouch's high-velocity exchange with American culture is conducted with scrupulous allegiance to the truth, even when it hurtsand it usually does. And on the subject of jazzfrom Sidney Bechet to Billy Strayhorn, Duke Ellington to Miles Davisthere is no one more articulate, impassioned, and encyclopedic in his knowledge than Stanley Crouch.

   Crouch approaches everything in his path with head-on energy, restless intelligence, and a refreshing faith in the collective experiment that is Americaand he does so in a virtuosic prose style that is never less than thrilling.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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Editorial Reviews

David Futrelle

Stanley Crouch has made his reputation as a sort of literary bruiser, both literally and figuratively. He's known for his savage, slashing assaults on celebrities both highbrow and low -- particularly those fellow African-Americans who, in Crouch's view, take too seriously the pieties of political correctness and multiculturalism. And, like many New York intellectuals of old, Crouch doesn't always make a clear distinction between writin' and fightin'. In the jazz world -- where Crouch's often controversial opinions carry a great deal of weight -- more than a few of his remarks have led to fisticuffs.

It's not hard to understand why. Crouch is, if nothing else, blunt in his insults. In the past, he's dismissed critic bell hooks as a "terrier" and compared novelist Toni Morrison to P.T. Barnum. In his latest collection of essays, Always in Pursuit, Crouch -- a contributing editor at the New Republic and a columnist for the New York Daily News -- takes on everyone and everything from the bland pop of Michael Jackson ("The King of Narcissism") to the raw comedy of Richard Pryor and Def Comedy Jam ("minstrelsy with dirty words, Uncle Tom cursing his way to the bank"); from Phil Donahue ("irritating ... smug ... sanctimonious") to Malcolm X (a "saber-rattling black nationalist ... rabble rouser").

Crouch's critics on the left have tended to dismiss him as little more than a neocon Uncle Tom, winning plaudits from the establishment for espousing the sort of "political incorrectness" that plays all too well in Peoria. They have a point: Does anyone imagine that it takes much in the way of guts to denounce rap music as "garbage" or to conclude that nuttily Afrocentric City College of New York professor Leonard Jeffries is a "buffoon"? Or that it takes real courage for Crouch to denounce "liberal racism" at a conference sponsored by the American Enterprise Institute? (One of his essays was originally delivered as a talk there.)

Still, Crouch is something more than a neocon hit man. While he generally prefers to attack with a right hook, landing his hardest blows on unsuspecting liberal icons and purveyors of pop culture "garbage," his ideological affinities are unpredictable, to say the least. Always in Pursuit contains loving paeans to the late Ron Brown, former Clinton administration wheeler-dealer, and (even more strangely) to defense attorney Johnnie Cochran, whom one might have expected Crouch to dismiss as a race-baiting conspiracy-monger.

Crouch's greatest crimes, though, come in the realm of style. Though he has a certain flair with the sound bite, most of Crouch's sentences are baggy, formless concoctions that only loosely adhere to conventional rules of grammar; his book is a chore to traverse. Take this sentence, a commentary on last year's summer blockbuster Twister, which Crouch seems to think contains some profound lessons on life in postmodern America: "This American Mars and Diana who, far more than a century ago, became the pioneer man and woman on our frontier and have now been remade yet again to speak for the rallying point of the sexes in the face of our shifting redefinitions of each other and of the frontier that is now at least partially about how we shall use our technology to better human life."

No, it doesn't take much courage to toss another log on the fire of political correctness. But it does take a certain amount of chutzpah to push a sentence like that into print. -- Salon

Library Journal
From Duke Ellington to The Nutty Professor, another scathing collection of essays.
From the Publisher

"Crouch [is] a master of the provocative sentence and vivid image."-USA Today

"Feisty and varied...beautifully written...Crouch gives us much to think about and says things about this country that need to be said."- Houston Chronicle

"Among contemporary essayists, few match Stanley Crouch for breath of subject matter, diversity of style and sheer brilliance."- Emerge

"Tremendous... one of the greatest nonfiction pens in modern American writing... The ambition, lyricism, rhythm, and breadth of knowledge evidence in his paragraphs can be brilliant."- The Village Voice

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307554321
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 2/24/2010
  • Series: Vintage
  • Sold by: Random House
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 368
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

Stanley Crouch is a contributing editor to The New Republic, a Sunday columnist for the New York Daily News, and a frequent panelist on The Charlie Rose Show. He is the author of The All-American Skin Game (which was nominated for a National Book Critics Circle Award) and Notes of a Hanging Judge. For years a jazz critic and staff writer for the Village Voice, he is Artistic Consultant to Jazz at Lincoln Center. He lives in New York City

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Blues to You, Part III 3
Pt. 1 To Throw an Arm Around Life and Move with It: An Overture in Themes 11
Blues for Tomorrow: A Gathering of Commentaries on Our American Condition 13
Pt. 2 A Number One Himself: Reflections on a Master 41
Duke Ellington: Transcontinental Swing 43
Pt. 3 Celebrity Nudes: Bloodshed, Sex, and Narcissism 67
Truth Crushed to Earth 69
The Dardenilla Dilemma: Selling Hostile Chocolate and Vanilla Animus 78
The Dream Was Not in Place 94
Blues for Three Widows 97
The Huffing and Puffing Military Blues 102
The King of Narcissism 106
Pt. 4 Regarding Books: Homeric or Not? 111
Two on the Money 114
Bible Belt Greco-Roman Blues: The Shadow of the Negro 117
The Blues Is the Accompaniment 128
Some Words about Albert Murray: Universal Counterpoint from the Bass Clef 132
Somebody Knew 179
Pt. 5 Foreign Intrigue: Some Dateline Ganders and Musings 189
Downstairs Blues Upstairs 191
World War II at Fifty 194
Hiroshima, Mon Amour 197
Who's Sorry Now? 200
Patty-Cake with Blood 203
Forgotten Girl-Slave Blues 206
Whose Business Is Our Business? 209
Trouble in the East 212
Pt. 6 Up from the Grim: Transitional Speculation, Ron Brown, and a Christmas Card 217
Who Will Enjoy the Shadow of Whom? 219
Meditation on Ron Brown, in Two Parts 228
Spirits Spun in Gold 233
Pt. 7 Images of Light in Dark Rooms: Some Cinematic Achievements 237
Two Out of Three: Reinventing Americana 243
Blues at the Gallows Pole 252
The Radio Play Goes Public as the Sit-down Raises Up 255
The Nutty Professor 265
Bull Feeney Plays the Blues: John Ford and the Meaning of Democracy 268
Pt. 8 Shout-Chorus on the Way Out: How Dare We Do All the Things We Dare to Do? 289
Blues to Be Redefined 291
Index 311
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