Always in Pursuit (Magill Book Reviews)
When one boils down Stanley Crouch’s ALWAYS IN PURSUIT: FRESH AMERICAN PERSPECTIVES, 1995-1997 to its bare essence, it turns out to be saying that race essentialism, founded on a discredited, biological discourse of race, has to be abandoned in America’s courts, schools, businesses, and university departments of African American studies. However, the Negro culture (he chafes at the term “African American”) has to be respected and developed.
This is a rich position, well worth exploring. Unfortunately, Stanley Crouch is so in love with the sound of his own voice that he sometimes drowns out his own best insights. Much of ALWAYS IN PURSUIT was first published in Crouch’s newspaper columns, and though he tries to fuse these columns together in interesting ways, the simple fact is that very few newspaper columns deserve to be preserved for posterity between the covers of a book. A crime bill that passed two years before ALWAYS IN PURSUIT was published demands, if anything, a thorough, retrospective analysis, and not a simple recycling of an old opinion piece. No writer less enamored of himself could convince himself that such intellectual flotsam and jetsam retains its value long after the facts have changed.
In his pieces on Duke Ellington, Albert Murray, and John Ford, Crouch shows himself to have a keen critical eye (and ear), one quite capable of distinguishing good from mediocre, and great from good. When it comes to evaluating...
(The entire section is 392 words.)
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Always in Pursuit (Magill's Literary Annual 1991-2005)
For years the New York Daily News, which publishes a regular column by Stanley Crouch in which many of the essays included in Always in Pursuit first appeared, published a sports column by the crusty, cranky sportswriter Dick Young titled “Young Ideas.” The title was something of a joke: Although Young had indeed been on the cutting edge of sports journalism at one time in his career, by the time he became a Daily News columnist, he had already calcified into a cranky version of himself, and the misnomer that attempted to hide this fact inevitably called attention to the emptiness of his bombast. In adding the subtitle, Fresh American Perspectives, to his new collection of essays, Always in Pursuit, Stanley Crouch risks making a similar mockery of himself if the reader does not happen to find his perspectives fresh. In fact, some of them do live up to the billing of “fresh” but, occasionally, only because they express ideas that have been around long enough that there are no longer many people expressing them. Yet whether or not his perspectives are “fresh,” they are definitely his own, and he will certainly argue them with anyone willing to listen.
At his core Crouch seems to be an old-fashioned Great Society Democrat—old-fashioned in that he represents a point of view that predates the time when this point of view became the center and members of the party stood either to the right or left. For...
(The entire section is 1847 words.)