cover image Always in Pursuit: Fresh American Perspectives

Always in Pursuit: Fresh American Perspectives

Stanley Crouch. Pantheon Books, $25 (272pp) ISBN 978-0-375-40153-4

Crouch (The All-American Skin Game) offers another collection of his speeches and essays gathered from sources ranging from the New York Daily News to the Partisan Review. He stresses that this work builds on his previous efforts; indeed, he again offers praise for Albert Murray, a multifaceted author who has no truck with black separatism, and repeats his own trenchant criticisms of racial and ethnic balkanization. This book unfortunately has the feel of a grab bag: interesting but long essays on Faulkner, Murray and Duke Ellington; less enduring columns on the likes of Ron Brown, Eddie Murphy's The Nutty Professor and the anniversary of the end of WWII. Still, Crouch's fluid style, clearly influenced by the blues and jazz he loves, keeps his prose interesting. And though his celebratory words about American democracy can sound flowery, his pugnacious comments on race--criticizing the ""updated minstrelsy of thug life"" or challenging those who imposed racial authenticity on O.J. Simpson--remain a topic for debate. (Feb.)