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Visible Man : The Life of Henry Dumas

By: Leak, Jeffrey B.
Material type: TextTextSeries: eBooks on Demand.Publisher: Athens : University of Georgia Press, 2014Description: 1 online resource (220 p.).ISBN: 9780820347103.Subject(s): African American authors -- Biography | Authors, American -- 20th century -- Biography | Dumas, Henry, 1934-1968Genre/Form: Electronic books.Additional physical formats: Print version:: Visible Man : The Life of Henry DumasDDC classification: 813.54 | 813/.54 Online resources: Click here to view this ebook.
Contents:
COVER; CONTENTS; ACKNOWLEDGMENTS; Prologue; ONE: Arkansas Boyhood; TWO: Skyscrapers, Subways, and Camels; THREE: Learning to Read, Write, and Think; FOUR: Another Conversion; FIVE: Progress, Setbacks, and Romance; SIX: Chasing Change; SEVEN: Pages without a Publisher; EIGHT: Headed to East Boogie; NINE: From Sweet Home to Harlem; Epilogue; NOTES; SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY; INDEX; A; B; C; D; E; F; G; H; I; J; K; L; M; N; O; P; R; S; T; U; V; W; Y
Summary: Henry Dumas (1934-1968) was a writer who did not live to see most of his fiction and poetry in print. A son of Sweet Home, Arkansas, and Harlem, he devoted himself to the creation of a black literary cosmos, one in which black literature and culture were windows into the human condition. While he certainly should be understood in the context of the cultural and political movements of the 1960s-Black Arts, Black Power, and Civil Rights-his writing, and ultimately his life, were filled with ambiguities and contradictions. Dumas was shot and killed in 1968 in Harlem months before his thirty-fourth birthday by a white transit policeman under circumstances never fully explained. After his death he became a kind of literary legend, but one whose full story was unknown. A devoted cadre of friends and later admirers from the 1970s to the present pushed for the publication of his work. Toni Morrison championed him as "an absolute genius." Amiri Baraka, a writer not quick to praise others, claimed that Dumas produced "actual art, real, man, and stunning." Eugene Redmond and Quincy Troupe heralded Dumas's poetry, short stories, and work as an editor of "little" magazines. With Visible Man , Jeffrey B. Leak offers a full examination of both Dumas's life and his creative development. Given unprecedented access to the Dumas archival materials and numerous interviews with family, friends, and writers who knew him in various contexts, Leak opens the door to Dumas's rich and at times frustrating life, giving us a layered portrait of an African American writer and his coming of age during one of the most volatile and transformative decades in American history.
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PS3554.U43 Z75 2014 (Browse shelf) http://uttyler.eblib.com/patron/FullRecord.aspx?p=1630849 Available EBL1630849

COVER; CONTENTS; ACKNOWLEDGMENTS; Prologue; ONE: Arkansas Boyhood; TWO: Skyscrapers, Subways, and Camels; THREE: Learning to Read, Write, and Think; FOUR: Another Conversion; FIVE: Progress, Setbacks, and Romance; SIX: Chasing Change; SEVEN: Pages without a Publisher; EIGHT: Headed to East Boogie; NINE: From Sweet Home to Harlem; Epilogue; NOTES; SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY; INDEX; A; B; C; D; E; F; G; H; I; J; K; L; M; N; O; P; R; S; T; U; V; W; Y

Henry Dumas (1934-1968) was a writer who did not live to see most of his fiction and poetry in print. A son of Sweet Home, Arkansas, and Harlem, he devoted himself to the creation of a black literary cosmos, one in which black literature and culture were windows into the human condition. While he certainly should be understood in the context of the cultural and political movements of the 1960s-Black Arts, Black Power, and Civil Rights-his writing, and ultimately his life, were filled with ambiguities and contradictions. Dumas was shot and killed in 1968 in Harlem months before his thirty-fourth birthday by a white transit policeman under circumstances never fully explained. After his death he became a kind of literary legend, but one whose full story was unknown. A devoted cadre of friends and later admirers from the 1970s to the present pushed for the publication of his work. Toni Morrison championed him as "an absolute genius." Amiri Baraka, a writer not quick to praise others, claimed that Dumas produced "actual art, real, man, and stunning." Eugene Redmond and Quincy Troupe heralded Dumas's poetry, short stories, and work as an editor of "little" magazines. With Visible Man , Jeffrey B. Leak offers a full examination of both Dumas's life and his creative development. Given unprecedented access to the Dumas archival materials and numerous interviews with family, friends, and writers who knew him in various contexts, Leak opens the door to Dumas's rich and at times frustrating life, giving us a layered portrait of an African American writer and his coming of age during one of the most volatile and transformative decades in American history.

Description based upon print version of record.

Reviews provided by Syndetics

Library Journal Review

American writer Henry Dumas (1934-68) argued that to survive, the black man had to embrace his own past, not the white man's. During his lifetime Dumas struggled for recognition, publishing mostly in obscure journals. Fatally shot by a New York transit policeman, Dumas never reached 34. Recognition of sorts came later. Toni Morrison, senior editor at Random House, included some of his poems in a collection of African American writings and saw to the reissue of two books of his stories, and some poems and fiction were eventually included in the Norton anthology of African American literature. But his writings still lie below the radar for most. Leak (English, director, Ctr. for the Study of the New South, Univ. of Carolina-Charlotte; editor, Rac(e)ing to the Right) faced formidable challenges in writing his book, which is both biography and critical study. Dumas left little behind, except in the most general terms, about his life. Still, themes emerge: Dumas's alienation from white culture, his increasing dependence on drugs and alcohol, his growing erraticism. Leak has done an admirable job piecing together the talented but tormented -man. VERDICT A somewhat pedestrian but necessary study of a minor literary figure that will be of most use to scholars of -African American literature.-David Keymer, Modesto, CA (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

CHOICE Review

In this beautifully written biography of African American poet and fiction writer Henry Dumas (1934-68), Leak (Univ. of North Carolina, Charlotte) transports readers back to Depression-era rural Arkansas in the 1930s, the promise and excitement of Harlem in the 1940s and 1950s, and the turbulent racial politics of the 1960s. Dumas did not publish much during his lifetime; most of his writings appeared posthumously, and he did not leave diaries or many letters from which to trace the arc of his life. Leak does an admirable job of piecing together a black writer's life cut short when he was murdered in a racially motivated subway incident. Leak reads Dumas's writings in the context of his biography. For example, Leak contextualizes Dumas's short story "Echo Tree" with the tragic love-triangle murder of Dumas's younger brother Billy, contending that Dumas's strategy of "leaving characters nameless is a recurring motif in Dumas's work, a way of suggesting the universality of black experience." The biography's title alludes to Ralph Ellison, who was at Rutgers while Dumas studied there but ignored manuscripts Dumas gave him. Because Dumas's work often reflects efforts of blacks to become visible on their own terms, this biography is much deserved. --Debra J. Rosenthal, John Carroll University

Author notes provided by Syndetics

JEFFREY B. LEAK is an associate professor of English and director of the Center for the Study of the New South at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte. He is the editor of Rac(e)ing to the Right: Selected Essays of George S. Schuyler and the author of Racial Myths and Masculinity in African American Literature .

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