First of the Year: 2009 : Volume II book cover
1st Edition

First of the Year: 2009
Volume II

Edited By

Benj DeMott

ISBN 9781412811668
Published November 15, 2009 by Routledge
316 Pages

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Book Description

This is the second volume in the First of the Year Series. Contributors like Armond White, Philip Levine, Donna Gaines, Lawrence Goodwyn, Irving Louis Horowitz, Charles O'Brien, Fredric Smoler, Paul Berman, and Amiri Baraka are back (and blazing). And there are important new voices in the First mix, such as Vincent Harding, Roxane Johnson, and Bob Levin. If there is a leitmotif to this edition, it is the election and inauguration of Barack Obama as the first African-American president. First aims to be up to the minute of this moment.

As Benj DeMott notes "a glance at this volume confirms the margin is still the center for us." And that margin stretches from Harlem to the world. There are tales of edgy sojourns in Afghanistan, Thailand, and South Africa. The volume also has a Question & Answer with Ousmane Sembi, who taught Africans to resist "elements of received culture-those fixed rules and values which nobody but those on the margins dare to question." A second interview with Adam Hochschild celebrates the Englishman who invented abolition, and an African-American original who coined the phrase "crimes against humanity."

The volume includes a protest against the Israeli war machine by Uri Avnery who has long been a creative outsider in his own society. It makes the case that American ideologues (on both extremes) keep getting the Middle East wrong because they cannot grasp the complexities of any country, including their own. First of the Year's minority angles of vision will help readers see with new eyes. It will help their hearing too. The volume has plenty of music writing marked by loving attention to details of pop performances. In short, this collection reflects its editor; direct, unafraid, urban, and entirely contemporary.

Table of Contents

Part I: Home Is Where We Start
Dennis Myers – Winter Light
Irving Louis Horowitz – A Child's Vision of the Great Depression
Roxane Beth Johnson – The Prose of the World
Tom DeMott – Manilow or Monk
Judy Oppenheimer – Showing Out
Mark Rudd – "Something About Compassion"
Benj DeMott – Between Two Smiles
Uri Avnery – The Boss Has Gone Mad
Paul Berman – Rational Exuberance
Fredric Smoler – Two Nations
Mike Rose – Everyday People in Never-Never Land
Natalie Estrellita – Anguish As A Second Language
Natalie Estrellita – Touch Me
Alison Stone – The Lovers
Bongani Madondo – Makeba in Memoriam
Ben Kessler – R. Kelly's Political Gift
Armond White – Springsteen's Magic Realism
David Golding – God Stretch America: James Baldwin & Barack Obama
Benjamin DeMott – The Uses of James Baldwin
Samba Gadjigo – "All Sweat": Ousmane Sembene on Art/Life
First of the Month – Radical History Channel
I Had a Dream – Joe Richey 96
Judy Oppenheimer – Tight Connection 101
Part II: First Draft of History II
Amiri Baraka – You Gotta Move
Wesley Hogan – Warm Regards & Power Chords
Ty Geltmaker – My February Epiphany
Benj DeMott – Cross the Border, Close the Gap
Ben Kessler – Stuff White People Like
Judy Oppenheimer – Orpheus Descending
Stephan Talty – Buffalo's Black and White Ball
Mike Rose – School's Out for the G.O.P.
Judy Oppenheimer – Feelings
Wesley Hogan & Dirk Philipsen – Notes from the State of Virginia
Amiri Baraka – American Junkies
Scott Spencer – American Socialism 2.0
Benj DeMott – If Buddy Met Poppy
Dennis Myers – Apocalypse Wow!
Fredric Smoler – Reality Check
Donna Gaines – America Alcoholica
Natalie Estrellita – Presidential Hair
Tom Smucker – Calvin and The Rapture
Donna Gaines – Living Sober
Amiri Baraka – We Are Already In The Future!
Lawrence Goodwyn – The Ground We Stand On
Part III: Guided Trips
Charles O'Brien – At Ease in Azania
Bongani Madondo – South to a Very Old Place
Michael Lydon – A House of Books
Benj DeMott – The Uses of Benjamin DeMott
Fredric Smoler – Against the Current
Charles O'Brien – To Criticize the Critic
Bob Levin – How I Became a Writer (Pt. 1)
Philip Levine – Shadow Boxing
Peter Lamborn Wilson – My Summer Vacation in Afghanistan
Nat Finkelstein – Kandahar 1971
Michael L. Schmicker – Hem, Maugham and Me
Bruce Jackson – David's Choice
Bob Levin – Pariah-Time
Armond White – Genius – Not!
Vincent G. Harding – Midwiving a New America
Part IV: Last Call & Response
Charles O'Brien – Where Hope Ends
Richard Torres – Witness
Contributors' Notes

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