Part One: Losing My Cool
For once, I thought I might actually offer a holiday/historical themed book review on the actual holiday. Something I have hoped but failed to do many times in the past.
But first, a confession. It might seem counterintuitive to post about Thomas Chatterton Williams on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Or perhaps it might be seen as a typical reactionary thing to do as a “conservative.” I.E. rather than write about racial injustice, what the holiday should be about, post about someone who rejects race and seeks to get beyond it. Fair enough.
For the record, I plan to read what you might call primary documents during February, Black History Month. As the Black Lives Matter movement and related issues exploded over the summer I thought it would be interesting to attempt to read in a way that was emotionally removed from this summer but intellectually connected.
Books in this vein I hope to read this year (from my Library of America and Everyman’s collection):
- Frederick Douglass: Autobiographies
- Albert Murray: Collected Essays & Memoirs
- James Baldwin: Collected Essays
- Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
So with that aside, what to make of the aforementioned Thomas Chatterton Williams?
Thomas Chatterton Williams is the author of Losing My Cool and Self-Portrait in Black and White. He is a contributing writer at the New York Times Magazine, a contributing editor at the American Scholar and a 2019 New America Fellow. His work has appeared in the New Yorker, the London Review of Books, Harper’s and elsewhere, and has been collected in The Best American Essays and The Best American Travel Writing. He has received support from Yaddo, MacDowell and The American Academy in Berlin. He lives in Paris with his wife and children.
I believe I first heard of him via Twitter where I saw links and recommendations to both his essays and his books.
I was first intrigued by Self-Portrait in Black and White: Unlearning Race and checked it out from the library. But decided to read Losing My Cool: How a Father’s Love and 15,000 Books Beat Hip-hop Culture: Love, Literature, and a Black Man’s Escape from the Crowd first. And I really enjoyed it.Continue reading →