Deep Sightings and Rescue Missions: Fiction, Essays and Conversations


Edited and with a Preface by Toni Morrison, this posthumous collection of short stories, essays, and interviews offers lasting evidence of Bambara's passion, lyricism, and tough critical intelligence. Included are tales of mothers and daughters, rebels and seeresses, community activists and aging gangbangers, as well as essays on film and literature, politics and race, and on the difficulties and necessities of forging an identity as an artist, activist, and black woman. It is a treasure trove not only for those ...
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Deep Sightings & Rescue Missions: Fiction, Essays, and Conversations

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Edited and with a Preface by Toni Morrison, this posthumous collection of short stories, essays, and interviews offers lasting evidence of Bambara's passion, lyricism, and tough critical intelligence. Included are tales of mothers and daughters, rebels and seeresses, community activists and aging gangbangers, as well as essays on film and literature, politics and race, and on the difficulties and necessities of forging an identity as an artist, activist, and black woman. It is a treasure trove not only for those familiar with Bambara's work, but for a new generation of readers who will recognize her contribution to contemporary American letters.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Bambara's passion and concern for her people permeates Deep Sightings and Rescue Missions.... So strongly does the book convey Bambara's fiercely loving spirit that even those just making her acquaintance will feel the pain of her loss."
--Miami Herald
V.R. Peterson
Throughout Rescue Missions, black readers will see and hear themselves. Its surface is populated with black characters acting with maturity, sustained community, empowered by cultural values drawn from their social, spiritual and political experiences....The only quiet moments in this astute, probing and celebratory book are the blank spaces before the titles. Yet, it's the distance readers may sense between the type of noncommercial artistic commitment Bambara embodied and today's more prevalent exploitation of black culture by black artists, in the name of entertainment, that stretches ominous and still. Quarterly Black Review
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This compilation of selected short fiction, essays and interviews by (and with) the late Bambara (The Salt Eaters) is her first published work in 14 years, and it provides intriguing insights into this challenging African American writer. The collection includes a warm, appreciative preface by Nobel laureate Toni Morrison, who also edited this volume. The six stories feature characters who seek self-definition through their relationships with others: in "Going Critical," a mother slowly dying from radiation poisoning reflects on her relationship with her daughter during a day at the beach; and two boys are puzzled by the community's warm reception of a painter who transforms their favorite landmark and play area in "The War of the Wall." The second section features Bambara's voice much more clearly, as she tackles discursively the social and political concerns, often about race and gender, that animate her fiction. Her film criticism is especially trenchant: she discusses blaxploitation films of the 1960s and '70s, Julie Dash's Daughters of the Dust and Spike Lee's School Daze with a sharp eye for their complexity, message and vision. She also questions the assumptions behind our daily language, provoking readers to think in more complicated terms. Bambara (1939-1995) never made any bones about the fact that she viewed writing as a political act. The writings collected here show that, unlike many others, she rarely let her activist motives cripple her aesthetic sense or her intellectual honesty. (Nov.)
Library Journal
Bambara's (The Salt Eaters, LJ 4/1/80) artful storytelling and passion for writing and for film come through clearly in this posthumous collection of six fiction and six essay and conversation pieces. Bambara did not publish a new book in the 14 years prior to her death from cancer in December 1995; these writings, collected by Nobel Prize-winning novelist Morrison, remind us of Bambara's enormous talent and character. Among the essays and conversations is "How She Came by Her Name," an interview with Louis Massiah, in which Bambara tells about the evolution of her name; "The Education of a Storyteller," in which she tells of a conversation with her "Grandma" Dorothy, who encouraged her to expand her mind and to "tell the tale"; and "Deep Sight and Rescue Missions," in which she addresses race, assimilation, politics, pluralism, and indoctrination. In the remaining three essays, Bambara analyzes the politics, language, cultural aspects, and potential for social transformation of film. Highly recommended for Bambara's storytelling techniques and commentaries on life, society, and media.-Jeris Cassel, Rutgers Univ. Libs., New Brunswick, N.J.
Kirkus Reviews
A resonant posthumous collection of pieces—most of which have never before appeared in print—from a distinguished black woman writer.

Bambara, author of the critically acclaimed short-story collection Gorilla, My Love (not reviewed) and the novel The Salteaters (1980), died last year from cancer at the age of 56. This collection includes six short stories and several essays, as well as an interview with Bambara, conducted by her friend Louis Massiah. The latter, titled "How She Came By Her Name," is a wonderful exploration of Bambara's personal history, identity, and values, as well as her thoughts about her four most profound commitments: community activism, writing, motherhood, and film. Several essays discuss the history of black independent film and its importance to black cultural autonomy and expression; in the 1980s she came to prefer film over fiction and spent much of her time writing scripts, as well as editing, analyzing, and teaching film. She is also profoundly moving on the subject of her Harlem girlhood; she refers repeatedly to her memories of the neighborhood's legendary Speaker's Corner in the 1930s as a model for community discourse—and celebrates as well Harlem's bookstores, movie houses, and libraries. Sometimes these pieces tend toward the pedantic or polemical, becoming labored in a way that her fiction never is. Indeed, the fiction here is masterful—alive with powerful women, animated by rage at racial injustice, narrated in a compressed, powerful prose that is rich, varied, but always precise.

In the preface to this collection, Toni Morrison, Bambara's longtime editor and friend, writes that "I don't know if she knew the heart cling of her fiction." Whether she did or not, with the release of Deep Sightings, many readers will.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780679774075
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 1/28/1999
  • Edition description: 1 VINTAGE
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

On December 9, 1995, Toni Cade Bambara died of cancer at the age of 56. In its obituary of her, The New York Times called Bambara, "a major contributor to the emerging genre of black women's literature."
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Table of Contents

Fiction 3
Going Critical 5
Madame Bai and the Taking of Stone Mountain 27
Baby's Breath 45
The War of the Wall 57
Ice 67
Luther on Sweet Auburn 78
Essays and Conversations 87
Reading the Signs, Empowering the Eye 89
Language and the Writer 139
Deep Sight and Rescue Missions 146
School Daze 179
How She Came by Her Name 201
The Education of a Storyteller 246
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