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White Girls Hardcover – November 5, 2013


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White Girls + The Women
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 300 pages
  • Publisher: McSweeney's; Second Printing edition (November 5, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1936365812
  • ISBN-13: 978-1936365814
  • Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 6.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #38,786 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. New Yorker critic Als (The Women) delivers his first book in 15 years—a mesmerizing and varied collection of essays, some previously published. His eponymous white girls include Louise Brooks, Flannery O'Connor, Truman Capote, Richard Pryor, Malcolm X, Michael Jackson, Eminem, and others. Using his subjects as a springboard to analyze literature, photography, films, music, television, performance, race, gender, sexual orientation, and history, Als offers wry insights throughout. For example, he notes how O'Connor's readers often overlooked the originality and honesty of her portrayal... of Southern whiteness as it chafed under its biggest cultural influence—Southern blackness. In his opening essay, Tristes Tropiques, Als revels in his relationship (twinship) with the unnamed SL (Sir or Lady), noting that the relationship defies categorization in an America that is nothing if not about categories: There was no context... to understand us... two colored men who were together, not lovers, not bums, not mad. Highly attuned to popular culture, Als is a writer of many moods—meditative, sardonic, haunting, funny, reflective, and unconventional. Whether agonizing over photos of black lynchings (and realizing that the true meaning of the N-word is a slow death), or constructing a critique of Virginia Woolf in the voice of Richard Pryor's sister, he proves to be a compassionate writer looking for unity—even if it can't always be found. Agent: Jeffrey Posternak, Wylie Agency. (Nov.)

From Booklist

With roots in Barbados and Brooklyn and a deep immersion in the endless identity issues attendant upon being a gay man of color, bold, versatile critic and New Yorker staff writer Als continues the inquiry he launched in his first book, The Women (1996). Here’s a clue to the layered and spiked complexities of this essay collection: one of the “white girls” Als portrays is Truman Capote, another is Michael Jackson as well as Flannery O’Connor and silent film star Louise Brooks. Jennifer Lee, Richard Pryor’s widow, appears in Als’ bristling portrait of the brilliant performer. He also portrays with fresh insight Marshall Mathers III, that is, Eminem. Als is pyrotechnic, lifting off the page in a blast of stinging light and concussive booms that somehow coalesce into profound cultural and psychological illuminations. More covertly scorching is the long, wrenching essay “Tristes Tropiques,” an exploration of love and friendship, fear and fascination during the AIDS epidemic. Whether his subject is his mother, himself, or seminal artists, Als is a fine, piercing observer and interpreter, a writer of lashing exactitude and veracity. --Donna Seaman

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By cynthiawarrenclark on January 29, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
He's done it, again. Excellent writing and truly a master of his subject. I have been anxiously awaiting a second book from Als. The title here had me a little concerned but when I got it, I got it!! I will anxiously await his next book. My history with him began when reading his essays in The New Yorker years ago. The Women was a fantastic eye-opening read. I gave it as a gift to many friends. I will do the same with White Girls. Bravo, Als. I am your fan and so are those I turn you on to. If you are a person who evolves reading beyond the norm, I suggest you read Hilton Als.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By T.R. on December 27, 2013
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Wow. Moving, thoughtful, insightful, beautiful. Als writes like no one else. Incredibly personal and smart as hell. I need more.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer Pryor on January 7, 2014
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Hilton Al's theories and ideas are esoteric but very valid...
He writes with obvious insight and knowing....he is a truth seeker.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Peter Mladinic on February 16, 2014
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I don't have a lot of time at the moment, but can't leave this page without raving a little about White Girls. I've never read another book like it, not quite like it, and I will read many, perhaps all of these essays again. I say essays, but Als does things with his essays that make them original. His use of personas such as Richard Pryor's sister is..what it is, engaging, compelling, and utilitarian; with those personas we see from unique perspectives, reflecting the times of people such as Malcolm X's mother. I like the Capote essay, the O'Connor essay, Malcolm, and Pryor essays. The first essay, totally original, and the last totally compelling, but really this entire collection is original and compelling. "It Will Soon Be Here" is a masterpiece, which, I'm sure will be anthologized in years to come. I'm very curious about Diana Sands, (Beneatha in my favorite American play) and I'm curious about Als' weaving Kafka's cockroach into the Pryor essay. This book is lyrical, written by someone in love with language, and compelling, written by someone digging for truth in himself and the world, though digging's not the word I want. White Girls is author-driven, not dollar-driven. It's against stereotypes, and is intensely political, and global. It blends fact and fiction, it risks, and succeeds. Hats off to Hilton Als. Thanks for this much needed book!
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By James Joseph Downey on February 27, 2014
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Having never read a Hilton Als anything, this novel is a surprising collection of memoirs and essays. Hilton's perspective being the most interesting and hookable elements towards enjoying this text.
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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Robert on January 7, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A quirky and totally absorbing book. Unlike any I have ever read; you have to work to fully appreciate its prose and message, but who wants passive entertainment?
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10 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Jean Godfrey-June on November 15, 2013
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SO good. This book is like nothing else you ever read: memoir, essay, novel . . . all woven together, all brilliant.
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