'I defy you to read this book and come away with a mind unchanged' John Jeremiah Sullivan
'Als has a serious claim to be regarded as the next James Baldwin' Observer
'I see how we are all the same, that none of us are white women or black men; rather, we're a series of mouths, and that every mouth needs filling: with something wet or dry, like love, or unfamiliar and savory, like love'
White Girls is about, among other things, blackness, queerness, movies, Brooklyn, love (and the loss of love), AIDS, fashion, Basquiat, Capote, philosophy, porn, Louise Brooks and Michael Jackson. Freewheeling and dazzling, tender and true, it is one of the most highly acclaimed essay collections in years.
'A voice that's new, that comes as if from a different room. I defy you to read this book and come away with a mind unchanged' John Jeremiah Sullivan, author of Pulphead
'Effortless, honest and fearless' Rich Benjamin, The New York Times
'Als is one of the most consistently unpredictable and surprising essayists out there, an author who confounds our expectations virtually every time he writes' David L. Ulin, Los Angeles Times
'A comprehensive and utterly lovely collection of one of the best writers around' Eugenia Williamson, Boston Globe
New Yorker critic Als (The Women) delivers his first book in 15 years a mesmerizing and varied collection of essays, some previously published. His eponymous "white girls" include Louise Brooks, Flannery O'Connor, Truman Capote, Richard Pryor, Malcolm X, Michael Jackson, Eminem, and others. Using his subjects as a springboard to analyze literature, photography, films, music, television, performance, race, gender, sexual orientation, and history, Als offers wry insights throughout. For example, he notes how O'Connor's readers often overlooked "the originality and honesty of her portrayal... of Southern whiteness as it chafed under its biggest cultural influence Southern blackness." In his opening essay, "Tristes Tropiques," Als revels in his relationship ("twinship") with the unnamed SL ("Sir or Lady"), noting that the relationship defies categorization in an America that "is nothing if not about categories": "There was no context... to understand us... two colored men who were together, not lovers, not bums, not mad." Highly attuned to popular culture, Als is a writer of many moods meditative, sardonic, haunting, funny, reflective, and unconventional. Whether agonizing over photos of black lynchings (and realizing that the true meaning of the N-word is a "slow death"), or constructing a critique of Virginia Woolf in the voice of Richard Pryor's sister, he proves to be a compassionate writer looking for unity even if it can't always be found.