Letter to the Reader:


Dear John


I am beside myself again. At moments like this, I almost feel like one of those NFL drama queens on national television, albeit, more intellectual, running excitedly into the end zone, football held high.

But before I get into the reason for my ecstatic state, I would like to comment on Senior editor Herb Boyd’s review of a recent biography, John Oliver Killens—A Life of Black Literary Activism, by Keith Gilyard.

John O. Killens, a novelist more famous abroad than in the U.S., was both a friend and mentor to me. I met him when I was doing my very first assignment for a newspaper. The paper was the short-lived Manhattan Tribune , and I was to look into the rising conflict between Columbia University and the black Harlem community over the building of a gymnasium. Someone told me I should speak with John, who was teaching a graduate course in creative writing at the university.

John Killens and I immediately hit it off, and he invited me to sit in on his class, free of charge. He also gave me a copy of his World War II novel, And Then We Heard The Thunder, an exciting, well-written piece of creative fiction.

l couldn’t put it down.

Norman Mailer’s much heralded war novel, The Naked And The Dead, paled in comparison, and only James Jones’ From Here To Entirety came any where close to John’s work.

After I finished the book, I could not help but wonder why I had never heard of him. I was totally unaware of the racial politics in the mainstream intellectual community at that time, one that declared that only one creative black writer could have widespread exposure to the American public at a time; they wanted a “spokesman for his people.”

It was clearly James Baldwin’s turn, which, in many ways was his worse nightmare come true given his very personal fiction, which was more about him than any cause. But the lure proved to be irresistible, and Baldwin reluctantly accepted Richard Wright’s mantle and excelled at it, becoming a master polemicist with his brilliant essays, not his novels, at exactly the right time in history. My friend John’s turn never came.

***

I took Killens up on his generous offer to join his creative workshop at Columbia. I was still an undergraduate at NYU, sitting in on a graduate course at Columbia University.

This had to be some kind of first, given how Columbia used to talk about students attending NYU behind our backs, calling us names and turning their snobby noses up as we passed.

At that time, NYU was considered an intellectual low rent version of the Ivy League.

Rich kids, with little else.

***

So, it is with great pleasure that I am able to do a little something to help more people discover John O. Killens, a truly gifted, but sadly overlooked writer. The more I read of Professor Keith Gilyard’s excellent and well written account of the internal battle Killens faced between being a social activist, and a solitary person which creative writing demands, I couldn’t help but note that what an exciting time in world history it must have been to have lived as a creative, thinking black person. This time in American history had to be their heyday. African American intellectuals and artists and activists were bringing democracy to America for the very first time, and anyone black, with even a vague sense of social awareness, understood this.

I don’t blame Killens for leaving the law and becoming a creative writer, despite his spending so much of his highly productive life being ignored by his fellow Americans, both black and white.

***

My great enthusiasm, as I pointed out at the beginning of this letter, inspires me to say that I love this issue. I know I have said this before, and my panting over a particular issue is surely not new; nor is the fact that I worship my writers, editors and art directors.

I think everyone knows this by now, and has become accustomed to my bragging about them continuously; as we have good writers that are being well presented.

Enjoy this issue, and if you have time, drop me a letter.

Fred Beauford

Editor-in-Chief
/Publisher


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Neworld Review
Vol. 3 No 11 - 2010

Editor-in-Chief
/Publisher

Fred Beauford

Art Director

Bernie Rollins

Managing Editor

Margaret Johnstone

Editor-at-Large

Jan Alexander

Senior Editor

Herb Boyd

Online Managing Editor

Richard D. O'Brien

Contributing Editors


Jane M McCabe: History
Loretta H. Campbell
Sarah Vogelsong
Janet Garber
Sally Cobau
Ken Liebeskind
Jill Noel Shreve
Lindsey Peckham: Art Beat

The Neworld Review is a publication of Fred Beauford, 3183 Wilshire Blvd,
Suite 196,
Los Angeles, CA. 90010.

Material in this publication may not be reproduced in whole or in part without permission. Opinions expressed by contributors do not necessarily reflect the views of the publishers.

Manuscripts should be accompanied by a self-stamped envelope. Online submissions are accepted at literarylife1@hotmail.com.

Neworld Review cannot be held responsible for unsolicited photographs or manuscripts.

All correspondence to:

Fred Beauford
Editor-in Chief/Publisher

Neworld Review
3183 Wilshire Blvd,
Suite 196,
Los Angeles, CA. 90010


E-mail



Archives

VOL. 1 NO. 1 2008

VOL. 1 NO. 2 2008

VOL. 1 NO. 3 2008

VOL. 1 NO. 4 2008

VOL. 2 NO. 5 2009

VOL. 2 NO. 6 2009

VOL. 2 NO. 7 2009

VOL. 2 NO. 8 2009

VOL. 3 NO. 9 2010

VOL. 3 NO. 10 2010

This Month's Articles

REVIEWING

City of Veils

by Zoë Ferraris


Reviewed by Jill Noel Shreve


book cover

“There was no ringing in his ears, but the brutality of the scene made his skin prickle.” In her second novel, City of Veils, the sequel to her first, Finding Nouf, Zoë Ferraris introduces Detective Inspector Osama Ibrahim against this backdrop of a female’s mutilated, murdered, beached body. Ibrahim stands on the shore alongside the coroner. Both wonder how this woman’s body washed up and how she died.

Set in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Ferraris invites the audience.....Read More




ESSAY

Losing My Cool: How a Father’s Love and 15,000 Books Beat Hip-Hop Culture


by Thomas Chatterton Williams


An essay by Fred Beauford


Surviving Rap


losing my cool cover

One of the most devastating attacks on so-called “hip-hop” culture I have read comes not from grumpy old black men like everyone’s favorite father, Bill Cosby, or from one of the most outspoken critics of rap, New York Daily News columnist Stanley Crouch, the self-described “hanging Judge,” but from someone who grew up with, and once had deeply embraced the culture, Thomas Chatterton Williams.

In the end, however, the crux of Losing My Cool: How a Father’s Love and 15,000 Books Beat Hip-Hop Culture, by the first time author , is not just about rap.....Read More


REVIEWING

Savage Lands

by Clare Clark


Reviewed by Jan Alexander


Dismal Ghosts Along the Bayou


savage lands cover

Now that the reality show Who Do you Think You Are? has introduced the concept of ancestor worship to Americans – and even infused it with a Hallmark- sort of coolness – perhaps there is a ready market for tales of those who came here when doing so meant negotiating terms of settlement with the indigenous tribes. The title Savage Lands refers to just that – a vast territory that was home to people the new French arrivals called savages – and Clare Clark, a British historian who specializes in novels about dark lives in distant centuries, has done a meticulous and credible job of dredging up the complexities of the 18th century French colonists who homesteaded – or invaded, depending on your point of view - the swampy.....Read More



REVIEWING

Built of Books: How Reading Defined the Life of Oscar Wilde


by Thomas Wright

Reviewed by Sarah Vogelsong


built of books cover

Biography is a difficult literary form to execute today because of our sensitivity to the myriad emotional, social, and cultural layers that compose each individual’s life. Difficult as it is to unpack the experiences of a contemporary, the challenges increase tenfold when the subject lived in an era that demanded the concealment of many of these layers. Such a subject is Oscar Wilde, and such a daunting task is undertaken by Thomas Wright in Built of Books: How Reading Defined the Life of Oscar Wilde.

The broad outlines of Wilde’s life are well known: Born to the .....Read More

REVIEWING

John Oliver Killens—A Life of Black Literary Activism

by Keith Gilyard


Reviewed by Herb Boyd

john oliver killens cover

Only the most unenlightened, totally distracted participant at the Tenth National Black Writers’ Conference at Medgar Evers College this year missed the significance of the late John Oliver Killens (1916-1987) and his tireless dedication at the event’s very inception, in 1986. In fact, the subtitle of the bi-annual conference was And then We Heard the Thunder: Black Writers Reconstructing Memories and Lighting the Way.

Killens’ legacy was invoked at practically every panel, where his literary genius,.....Read More

ESSAY

Holy Warriors—A Modern History of the Crusades

by Jonathan Phillips


An essay by Jane M McCabe

holy warriors cover

I.

Failing to understand the crucial role the Crusades played in the development of Western civilization, we often disparage them, citing them as the foremost example of violence wrought in the name of religion. This argument is used to explain our distrust of organized religion. We see the Crusades as the time when European knights marched to wrest the Holy Land back into Christian hands. Whereas this is true, a rich.....Read More


LETTERS

Write Me A Letter...

Hi Fred:

--we've not met, but were part of the fox-eating-rabbit discussion. I started reading your acct of growing up in NYC in the 1950s...fascinating! I'm in Salem, MA, working to increase Native American heritage & cultural appreciation. I am also a writer and historian and architect.

John Goff
Salem, Ma.

BEYOND BOOKS

Art Beat

By Lindsey Peckham


big bambu

Big Bambu

Big Bambú, the adult playground perched on the roof of the Met, is too much fun to miss. Mike and Doug Starn, the artists who created the piece (and will continue to create it in three stages over this spring, summer, and fall), did so with the intention of demonstrating how nature, though always complete, is always growing and evolving. Pick a sunny day and climb through the graceful wilderness these twin brothers.....Read More



REVIEWING

The Double Comfort Safari Club

by Alexander McCall Smith


Reviewed by Janet Garber


Cold Comfort in a Hot Climate


the double comfort safari club cover

This is the 11th book in The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series, which debuted in 1998. Set in Gaborone, Botswana, the series, written by Alexander McCall Smith, showcases the talents of a memorable cast of characters: the principal, self-styled detective, Mma Precious Ramotse, her sidekick, Grace Makutsi, and Ramotse’s boyfriend and eventual husband, the mechanic, J.L.B. Matekoni.

Botswana is a land largely unknown to Western readers whose only images.....Read More


REVIEWING

Leonardo's Legacy: How Da Vinci Reimagined the World

by Stefan Klein


Reviewed by Ken Liebeskind

Exploring the scientific roots of Leonardo da Vinci’s genius

leonardo's legacy cover

In Leonardo’s Legacy, Stefan Klein, a German science writer, reassesses the career of Leonardo. The creator of the Mona Lisa, history’s most famous painting, Leonardo was a critical scientific thinker, who understood water power, designed military weapons, flying machines, robots and a rotary device that has been called “the oldest digital computer in action.”

At the outset, Klein says Leonardo was “far more than an outstanding artist,” yet he contributes an entire chapter on his creation of the Mona Lisa indicating how his scientific mind created it. A series of.....Read More


MEMOIR

…and Mistakes Made Along the Way, an excerpt from a memoir

by Fred Beauford


Chapter Seven—Death and Boredom


By the time I turned sixteen, the number of arrests of my friends in the Projects mounted; and now, the additional grim specter of death became a part of everyday gang conversation: LM died in jail, from what, we never knew, and George Morton was stabbed to death while walking down a street in the South Bronx. He locked eyes with a man sitting on his stoop, and soon words were exchanged. The man ran up to his apartment and came back down with a large butcher knife and plunged it into George’s chest, killing him .....Read More


SHORT STORIES

The Crazy Man

by Howell Hurst


The milk is sour. I only bought it yesterday, but it is definitely sour. I pour it into the kitchen sink, drop the carton to the floor, stamp it flat as an anemic pancake, and toss it into the waste basket. There is a hole in the wastebasket through which the last ounce of leftover milk gurgles onto the floor. Dropping to my knees, I sop it up and a straggly string from the rag I am using wiggles off and sticks to the floor, consummating its relationship with some previously positioned, rancid marmalade of the long defined past.

I bend again to my knees and scrape it all up with a case knife, which, in the process, breaks. I poke the two pieces of the knife into the wastebasket and open the fridge to get another carton of milk. The.....Read More