"You can find in a text whatever you bring, if you will stand between it and the mirror of your imagination. . . . Yes, take it all around, there is quite a good deal of information in the book. I regret this very much; but really it could not be helped."
Like his literary forebears *Frederick Douglass, James Baldwin, Ralph Ellison, and yes, Mark Twain *Ralph Wiley has some information to purvey. The news is not always good. But with Wiley's electrifying take on subjects from the black intelligentsia to The Bell Curve to O.J., Dark Witness is certain to outrage, entertain, and ultimately enlighten.
The titles of his chapters say it all: "One Day, When I Was On Exhibit." "Why Black People Are So Stupid." "Why Niggers Steal, Are Violent, and Stay on Welfare." "Where Negroes Got All That Rhythm." "Whoopi-Do and Hughes 2." "Sin and Juice." Behind the explosive flash of these phrases simmer the intense honesty and searing self-reflection of a man burning for justice. Taking to heart Douglass's words that "it is not light that is needed, but
fire . . . not the gentle shower, but thunder," Wiley, heir to the long tradition of "writer as activist," examines some of the most hotly debated issues of black life today and turns them inside out.
No one writing today has the incisiveness, the fire to dissect the world the way Ralph Wiley does. In Dark Witness he proves once again that he is one of the most gifted writers chronicling life in the crucible that is late-twentieth- century America.
"Wiley brings to the debate his own inimitable style, a bold perspective that is without compromise and a voice that provokes laughter about society's weightiest dilemmas."
"Humor is a formidable weapon, and Wiley puts it to outstanding use in this sharp-edged book."
*Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
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If it weren't for Ralph Wiley's DARK WITNESS, I might not have a job in publishing. After an initial interview for an editorial position, my future boss wanted to see if I really had what it took to work for One World / Ballantine. She sent me a copy of DARK WITNESS and asked me to report on it. I knew enough to realize that the standard book report format, "I liked this book because it was interesting to read." was not going to cut it. I spent a marathon session of two days reading and writing.
What really helped was that I knew Ralph Wiley's early work as a journalist at Sports Illustrated and later saw him on various television shows discussing the major issues of the day in sports. What I realized in reading DARK WITNESS is that Ralph is a very funny man and that on many levels DARK WITNESS is a funny book. Whether it's in expressing his appreciation for Mark Twain, discussing his son's early basketball career, choosing his fantasy basketball team, or attempting to untie the knots of America's twisted attitudes toward race, Wiley's insights are sure to make you laugh and make you think.
As much as Wiley admires Mark Twain, I think that Twain would admire him, too. Satire is a fine art, and too often today, the tool of choice among many television and film writers, novelists, and others is a sledge-hammer. Like Twain, Wiley wields a finely-honed scalpel to dissect American society. Laughter is a wonderful anesthetic, and DARK WITNESS continues to keep me under its spell.
A broad, often wildly funny examination of ``blackness'' in America, by the author of What Black People Should Do Now (1993). The quotation marks are Wiley's, and he uses them to raise questions about what the words ``black'' and ``white'' mean in America. In this regard, he approvingly cites the jazz musician Wynton Marsalis, who observes that ``United States Negro culture . . . includes all Americans.'' Wiley's larger interest, however, is in those who would exclude African-Americans from American culture. Warming to this task, he has a fine time poking indignant fun at the authors of The Bell Curve in an essay provocatively called ``Why Black People Are So Stupid,'' and sending up Saul Bellow, to whose question ``Who is the Tolstoy of the Zulus?'' Wiley responds, ``Tolstoy is the Tolstoy of the Zulus--unless you find a profit in fencing off universal properties of mankind into exclusive tribal ownership.'' Wiley's aim is sometimes scattershot; he fails to hit the mark in a too-cute, surreal reverie on the O.J. Simpson trial. He more than makes up for any lapses, however, with a long, sinuous, and altogether elegant essay called ``One Day, When I Was on Exhibit,'' which effortlessly glides from professional basketball to the woes of former NAACP president Benjamin Chavis to the question of self-governance for Washington, D.C., and scores big points at every turn. Equally pointed is Wiley's spirited defense of Mark Twain against those critics who deem him a racist; as he tells his young son, ``If you know a little math, can understand Mark Twain's writings and, most difficult of all, can avoid being a victim of ever-ominous Circumstance, you have a fighting chance; if you show some `heart' . . . then you pretty much have living in America licked.'' Humor is a formidable weapon, and Wiley puts it to outstanding use in this sharp-edged book. (Author tour) -- Copyright ©1996, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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Book Description One World/Ballantine, 1997. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX0345409744
Book Description One World/Ballantine, 1997. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Never used!. Bookseller Inventory # P110345409744
Book Description One World/Ballantine. PAPERBACK. Book Condition: New. 0345409744 New Condition. Bookseller Inventory # NEW7.1040445