First Of The Year

Overview

This is the first in a continuing series of reminders that the past informs the present as it infuses the future. As Benj DeMott notes, the aim of First of the Year is to define "the democratic imperatives and demotic tones that make our ongoing politics of culture matter." This annual publication is grounded in the needs of "dissed" people: disenfranchised, disadvantaged, disinherited, discomfited, and dismissed. But the concept has been sharpened to acknowledge that though the underdog is owed sympathy, the mad...

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Overview

This is the first in a continuing series of reminders that the past informs the present as it infuses the future. As Benj DeMott notes, the aim of First of the Year is to define "the democratic imperatives and demotic tones that make our ongoing politics of culture matter." This annual publication is grounded in the needs of "dissed" people: disenfranchised, disadvantaged, disinherited, discomfited, and dismissed. But the concept has been sharpened to acknowledge that though the underdog is owed sympathy, the mad dog is owed a bullet. In short, First of the Year is very much an effort of the twenty-first century.

The publication aims to be more than a launching pad for writers. It attempts to bridge the gap between radical perspectives without losing focus on the centrality of African-American culture to the national conversation. The coming together of figures like Armond White, Kate Millett, Lorenzo Thomas, Russell Jacoby, Adolph Reed, and Amiri Baraka is quite unlike what can be found in standard literary and social publications. They treat the African-American condition as a policy issue or an executive summary report--not as a touchstone for the state of the nation as a whole.

The initial volume also deals extensively and seriously with the issue of humanism and terror, the nature of social movements, electoral and urban politics, and the musical trends of our time. It does so with a sense of urgency often denied in mainstream literary reviews. Issues of "standards" are addressed from the angle of African-American cultural traditions, and the mind-body problem as a matter of race not just of metaphysics. In a nutshell, this volume intends to open a new chapter in the Harlem Renaissance; or better, an American renaissance with a Harlem lilt. First of the Year is an attempt to make political arguments breathe through cultural voices. Contributors include Sheldon Wolin, Jean Bethke Elshtain, Kurt Vonnegut, Paul Berman, Charles Keil, and Philip Levine, among others, ensuring its ability to entertain.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Benj DeMott, the editor not only of this compilation but of the arresting, fractious, tabloid newspaper of the radical imagination from which it is drawn, started publishing First of the Month in 1998, with what he likes to call a "crew" of fellow writers...intelligent, passionate, polemical writers ... I was impressed all over again with the contributions of Lawrence Goodwyn on Polish Solidarity, of Ellen Willis on the New York intellectuals ... of Fred Smoler on the Danish cartoon controversy or the 2004 commemoration of the Normandy landing, a first-hand account that for its generosity and insight could stand comparison with Norman Mailer's best journalism."

--Oliver Conant, American Book Review

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781412808019
  • Publisher: Transaction Publishers
  • Publication date: 3/15/2008
  • Pages: 464
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.03 (d)

Meet the Author

Benj DeMott has written for the City Sun, the Village Voice, and various academic journals. He’s edited First of the Month, along with Charles O’Brien and Armond White, since 1998.

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