Stanley Crouch
The Artificial White Man:
Essays on Authenticity.
Basic Civitas, 244 pages, $24

Stanley Crouch’s essays on race, masculinity, authenticity, and the arts are generally sober and robust. They are also shot through with jarring colloquialisms and demotic imagery. On page one of his collection The Artificial White Man:Essays on Authenticity, we are told that some of Crouch’s subjects will be “spanked.” Of novelists guilty of lazy or platitudinous treatment of race, he says that they are “[w]alking beneath a flag of white underwear stained fully yellow by liquefied fear.” Crouch’s engagement of low, folk, and pop culture is heralded by titles like “Baby Boy Blues,” “Segregated Fiction Blues,” and “Blues for the Artificial White Man.”

That alone will raise the hackles of some readers. And...

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