James Forman Jr’s The Society of Fugitives is an excellent and comprehensive review of Alice Goffman’s “On the Run: Wanted Men in a Philadelphia Ghetto.” Forman compares and contrast other social research and studies to the disparaging commentary of Goffman’s character observations in her study of inner city men. Her characterizations represent a minute portion of population, yet Goffman assumes her chosen samples as a monolith of inner city life on the Philadelphia streets.
The best of social researchers reach a crevice they understand is too large for them to cross. The wise turn away and find another science project, yet some, already invested in weeks of research preparations and a finite amount of time per semester plod on to the demise of their subjects. This may be one of those times.
Goffman was a sociology major, but her coursework hadn’t prepared her for the phenomenon she was witnessing. The situation of men like Mike and his friends had not figured prominently in previous ethnographies of the inner city. Whereas Anderson and others had written about young men who were continually suspected by the police but who had some chance of walking free after a street stop, the men Goffman studied were actually wanted. If the police were to stop them and discover their fugitive status, they would be taken into custody. These men also risked arrest for noncriminal activity that violated their probation or parole—staying out past curfew, for instance, or visiting a part of town where they weren’t allowed to be. As a result, they lived their lives on the run.
The sprawling novel about an African family dispersed throughout the world has also taken Ms. Selasi around the world. She did a prepublication tour last year, which introduced her to booksellers in this country and in the U.K., and is about to embark on a 10-city U.S. tour, followed by stops in England, Germany and the Netherlands, for “phase one” of the rollout. The book is being published in 14 countries besides the U.S., and phase two will include a visit to Italy in September. The tours are somewhat unusual for a first-time author and a signal that her publisher, Penguin Press, is committed to making her a literary star.
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Hattie, her men and her children — unmoored, lost and isolated — stumble through a joyless world where “talcum powder and hair grease and smoke fouled the air.” All are seeking a place for themselves, an identity to hang on to: sexual, spiritual, geographic, familial.
Edwidge Danticat was born in Haiti and moved to the United States when she was twelve. She is the author of several books, including Breath, Eyes, Memory and Krik? Krak! Her latest book, The Dew Breaker, is a remarkable story of family, heartbreak and new beginnings, both personal and political. Series: “Voices” [10/2004] [Humanities] [Show ID: 8904]
A Wisconsin senator is sick and tired of people celebrating Kwanzaa, which he believes is a fake holiday. Glenn Grothman believes the holiday was conjured by a racist professor (Maulana Karenga) and extreme liberals. In a press release, Grothman asked : “Why must we still hear about Kwanzaa? Why are hard-core left wingers still trying to talk about Kwanzaa — the supposed African-American holiday celebration between Christmas and New Year’s?”
The ball in Times Square has dropped, 2013 is here and, technically, so is the “fiscal cliff”, as Congress has yet to officially pass a plan to avert the scheduled spending cuts and tax hikes. But before panic sets in, although lawmakers failed to meet the midnight deadline, a deal is in place and the first step to making it official — Senate passage — is in the books.
The master of the revenge story, Alexandre Dumas, based many of his characters on his father, General Alex Dumas, who died when he was four years old. He worshiped his dad and this wasn’t just because he was his dad and took him fishing that one time. The guy was a genuine HERO.
Post: The Black Count by Tom Reiss: Review