cover image The Cruel Radiance: Notes of a Prosewriter in a Visual Age

The Cruel Radiance: Notes of a Prosewriter in a Visual Age

Ron Powers. University Press of New England, $25 (269pp) ISBN 978-0-87451-690-6

This collection of lectures, fiction excerpts and criticism by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Powers has as its theme the author's faith in the redemptive power of the written word and his parallel belief that exploitative broadcast media are eroding our cultural heritage. In five well-written, inspirational speeches delivered to the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference from 1983 to 1993, Powers examines the characteristics of forceful nonfiction writing as exemplified by James Agee (Let Us Now Praise Famous Men) and advocates a return to narrative journalism as storytelling. Several selections from Powers's novels (Face Value; Toot-Toot-Tootsie) deal with dehumanizing aspects of the TV industry. Five critical pieces written when he was a columnist for GQ magazine satirize and indict popular programs, including the Morton Downey Jr. Show and thirtysomething as either destructive or trivial. A provocative and thoughtful collection. (Jan.)