Bulletproof Diva

Lisa Jones, Author
Lisa Jones, Author Doubleday Books $22 (306p) ISBN 978-0-385-47122-0
Paperback - 306 pages - 978-0-385-47123-7
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``Style is political, of course,'' remarks Jones in one of the essays of this volume; and she proves her point through a series of impressionistic tales of the lives of African American women that demonstrates that the politics of style are linked integrally with the politics of race and gender. ``For black women without access to the room of one's own to make leisure-time art,'' Jones explains, ``our bodies, our style, became the canvas of our cultural yearning.'' Accordingly, the essays, culled mainly from Jones's ``Skin Trade'' column in the Village Voice , uncover layers of signification behind everything from lifestyles to hairstyles--she reads ``the hair trade as American social text.'' The insights yielded by these vignettes are particularly noteworthy because of the gap, explored by Jones adroitly, between the lives, ambitions and desires of the real women she writes of and the reductive, often negative iconography of black women in mainstream American culture. The Bulletproof Diva, a woman who cuts her own trail through the complex terrain of American culture without internalizing the repressive stereotypes this culture offers her as prefabricated forms of self-knowledge, comes to life repeatedly in these pages, yet is all but invisible elsewhere in the American media. Jones argues that it's time we recognize and celebrate her existence. Wickedly witty, savvy and on occasion breathtakingly insightful, these essays turn style into substance. (Apr.)
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