Monday, April 06, 2009

Pow Wow edited by Ishmael Reed with Carla Blank

Pow Wow (DaCapo) is an important book. Edited by the incomparable Ishmael Reed -- novelist, poet, playwright and essayist -- with help from Carla Blank, a writer and artist whose work you will be hearing about soon, Pow Wow’s subtitle offers a broad overview of the book: “Charting the Fault Lines in the American Experience -- Short Fiction from Then to Now.” As that subtitle implies, the reader is in for the journey of a lifetime.

The contributors represented alone make Pow Wow a collection of interest. Russell Banks, Cecil Brown, Stanley Crouch, James T. Farrell, Benjamin Franklin, Ellen Geist, Chester Himes, Langston Hughes, Bharati Mukherjee, Ty Pak, Grace Paley, Gertrude Stein, Mark Twain and more and more and more besides. In all, 63 pieces represent a diverse view of American writing over the past 200 years.

“In assembling this anthology,” Reed tells us in his foreword, “I have read over four hundred short stories written by American writers of all backgrounds. It is a journey I recommend for all readers who want to know where American civilization has been and where it is going.”

Pow Wow sets us on that journey in a collection intended to mark our consciousness and our hearts.

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