The Fluency of Light: Coming of Age in a Theatre of Black and White

Aisha Sabatini Sloan. Univ. of Iowa, $19.95 trade paper (132p) ISBN 978-1-60938-160-8

Her mother is white; her father is black; her search is for light and illumination. “Between blackness and whiteness” Sloan asserts, “brightness holds clues about what connects one side to the other.” While threads of her racial identity permeate the fabric of Sloan’s first book, her subject is the many selves that constitute the whole self. In Sloan’s case, this grows out of diverse places and out of her boundless passion for books, music, and movies. The musician Thelonious Monk’s style and performance, the scientist Michael Faraday’s lectures on candles, the works of the playwright Joseph Chaikin, the conceptual artist Adrian Piper, and the performance artist Ana Mendieta, along with Fellini’s films, the figure of Pinocchio, and the presence of Somali refugees all form parts of her identity and how she sees the world. While the move from location to location is loosely chronological—early childhood, adolescence, college, teaching—the memories within shift by association. Thus, in the midst of the meditation on reality and identity that is at the heart of this book, Sloan sketches the world of family and friends. As she navigates this network of identities, she adopts a casual tone that shares rather than lectures. The result is an engaging book about a heavy topic. (Apr.)