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remembered rapture: the writer at work [Paperback]

bell hooks
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Nov. 15 1999
With grace and insight, celebrated writer bell hooks untangles the complex personae of women writers. Born and raised in the rural South, hooks learned early the power of the written word and the importance of speaking her mind. Her passion for words is the heartbeat of this collection of essays. Remembered Rapture celebrates literacy, the joys of reading and writing, and the lasting power of the book. Once again, these essays reveal bell hooks's wide-ranging intellectual scope; she is a universal writer addressing readers and writers everywhere.

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From Amazon

African American women writers, being both black and female, face challenges that the rest of us might never have even considered. While this essay collection is ultimately a celebration of the writing life and of the writers author bell hooks (who signs her name with lower-case letters) cites as inspirational, it also illuminates the issues she and other black women writers have to contend with in their careers. Hooks has been criticized for, among other things, being incredibly prolific (she has been called "the Joyce Carol Oates of black feminist writing") and for her scope: "Black writers," says hooks, "always have difficulty gaining recognition for a body of work if anything we do is eclectic." Though hooks does take her critics to task, she is more concerned with confronting a system that seems determined to work against black women--and other minority--writers. She is critical of publishers for throwing the largest advances and promotional efforts at white male authors. She complains that "when writers from marginalized groups do work that is truly marvelous," the literary establishment is likely to see that work as a "rare exception." And she even rails against black women writers themselves, saying that "Nothing diminishes our efforts to gain a greater hearing for nonfiction by black women more than the severe dismissals of this work by black women."

Autobiography is one form of writing that hooks feels is particularly difficult for black women writers, most of whom come from families that never previously "had to think about whether a relative would write something about their lives." In fact, she says, autobiographical writing is troublesome for writers who do not "come from class backgrounds where there are rituals of public confession like psychoanalysis." As a child, says hooks, "talking openly outside the family about any aspect of family life was considered a form of treason." Now, though her family is proud of her and pleased that she has not forsaken her origins, she says, "writing about my life has created an emotional distance between me and my parents. An intimacy we once shared is gone." --Jane Steinberg --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

The 22 essays in cultural and literary critic hooks's 17th book were written over a period of 20 years and loosely trace her decision to become a writer and her metamorphosis into an academic. Together, they constitute a mixture of intellectual autobiography and manifesto on the proper living of a writer's life. Although in some essays hooks ruminates on her childhood in a working-class Southern black family, many others read like transcripts of lectures for college courses in American literature (hooks has taught at Yale, Oberlin, and the City College of New York), complete with suggested readings. She frequently analyzes her own work alongside the writing of Toni Morrison, Emily Dickinson, Lorraine Hansberry and Jamaica Kincaid. (According to hooks, Kincaid is taken more seriously by "mainstream" critics because she is not African American and because "writing by black writers who are not African-Americans tends to be seen as always more literary and therefore more valuable.") Some of the essays deal with the "politics" of publishing, the duplicity and rancorousness of academe and envy within the ranks of black writers. As always, hooks emphasizes the importance of personal and political identity to writing. Her prose is clear and she presents her arguments with a confident passion. If her politics are predictable, hooks infuses the best of these essays with a personal tone that sheds warm light on this one particular writer's writing life.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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I remember childhood as a time in anguish, as a dark time-not darkness in any sense that is stark, bleak, or empty but as a rich space of knowledge, struggle, and awakening. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good book more critally conscious writers. Dec 23 1998
Format:Hardcover
Again, hooks demonstrates her range as writer and social critic. She writes about what it means to be a writer who is Black, feminist, and spirtually connected. This work will answer many of the questions readers of her other works may have about her inspirations as a writer, why she chose to write her memoirs, what challenges she has faced as a writer, and how we, her readers, can connect with our own lives through writing (She says:"Writing becomes a way to embrace the mysterious, to walk with spirits, and an entry to the realm of the sacred." And on her early writings: "My write was an act of resistance not simply in relation to outer structures of domination like race, sex, and class; I was writing t resist all the socialization I had received in religios, southern, working-class, patriarchal home that tried to teach me silence as the most desirable trait of womanliness"). It's not offen that we get to hear a progressive writer talk about the act of writing. This area is usually preserved for mainstream writers. So it's good to see hooks revealing parts of her self in this work. I think will see a lot more from hooks. I hope she delves more into her experiences in the academy, showing us her interacitons with her students and co-workers. While her life is important, we also need her critical eye on the people around her.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Vintage bell hooks March 13 1999
Format:Hardcover
I saw the interview of bell hooks on C-Span. Went and purchased the book the next day. It serves as a primer for women who are writers or want to be writers. She candidly discusses the inside of the publishing industry. Also, she makes it clear that writing is something that a person should love for the craft not just for the money. Do not put this book down before you finish it. Near the end she pays a warm tribute to the black women writers who have influenced her work. As expected, it is well written and should become a part of our reference libraries.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Joyous Jan. 19 2003
Format:Hardcover
Essential for "the aspiring indigenous black female writer." Honest encouragement and insider info from a young woman writer who has blossomed into one of the most important writers and intellectuals of our times. Plus, it's good fun for those with a passion for writing or reading.
Her observations are wise. Her grasp of history is absolute. Her ideas stimulate intelligent and loving thought, conversation, and action. Read this book.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  7 reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Vintage bell hooks March 13 1999
By hdjohn01@maxwell.syr.edu - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I saw the interview of bell hooks on C-Span. Went and purchased the book the next day. It serves as a primer for women who are writers or want to be writers. She candidly discusses the inside of the publishing industry. Also, she makes it clear that writing is something that a person should love for the craft not just for the money. Do not put this book down before you finish it. Near the end she pays a warm tribute to the black women writers who have influenced her work. As expected, it is well written and should become a part of our reference libraries.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good book more critally conscious writers. Dec 23 1998
By Bakari Chavanu - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Again, hooks demonstrates her range as writer and social critic. She writes about what it means to be a writer who is Black, feminist, and spirtually connected. This work will answer many of the questions readers of her other works may have about her inspirations as a writer, why she chose to write her memoirs, what challenges she has faced as a writer, and how we, her readers, can connect with our own lives through writing (She says:"Writing becomes a way to embrace the mysterious, to walk with spirits, and an entry to the realm of the sacred." And on her early writings: "My write was an act of resistance not simply in relation to outer structures of domination like race, sex, and class; I was writing t resist all the socialization I had received in religios, southern, working-class, patriarchal home that tried to teach me silence as the most desirable trait of womanliness"). It's not offen that we get to hear a progressive writer talk about the act of writing. This area is usually preserved for mainstream writers. So it's good to see hooks revealing parts of her self in this work. I think will see a lot more from hooks. I hope she delves more into her experiences in the academy, showing us her interacitons with her students and co-workers. While her life is important, we also need her critical eye on the people around her.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Joyous Jan. 19 2003
By rainqueen - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Essential for "the aspiring indigenous black female writer." Honest encouragement and insider info from a young woman writer who has blossomed into one of the most important writers and intellectuals of our times. Plus, it's good fun for those with a passion for writing or reading.
Her observations are wise. Her grasp of history is absolute. Her ideas stimulate intelligent and loving thought, conversation, and action. Read this book.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars If you think you may be a writer, read this book. June 28 2005
By Louisa Charlene Vacon - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Hooks' life absolutely depends on writing. In fact, she talks about writing to *avoid death* in many places throughout this collection of essays: there's the confessional writing that she does to avoid suicide early on in her writing life; there's also other more figurative deaths including despair and domination. These two can be overcome in writing by writing works of reconciliation and community, which hooks says she is always trying to do. This is a way of writing that will be most interesting to those among us who are interested in writing as resistance, or with social transformation.

Death seems to stalk black women who write. Hooks points to Audrey Lorde, Toni Cade Bambara, Lorraine Hansberry, and others who died quite young. This is another reason why the writer must use her time deligently: she does not know when her time will be over. It is also a reason to write autobiographical work, so we'll know something about you, the writer, when you're dead. We still know very little about the life of Zora Neal Hurston, hooks says.

You can already see there are many writers about whom hooks thinks. The author's habitus includes: Matthew Fox on spirtuality, Dorothy Allison on growing up poor or working class, Cornel West on race, Tillie Olsen on class, Jeanette Winterson, Ann Petry, Emily Dickenson and more.

From childhood, hooks was eager to write: first poetry and diaries, then fiction, and later the critical non-fiction for which she is so well-known. (Did you know that bell hooks wrote her first book, Ain't I a Woman, when she was nineteen?) She observes that once you are pegged into one genre of writing, say that of the critical essay, it is unlikely that you will be able to cross over into other genres successfully. This is not because you will not be good at different kinds of writing. This is because publishers, critics, and the academy will see you as a writer of critical essays, end of story. Hooks says she revolts against these divides.

This is an example of the kinds of insight hooks offers about the institutional apparatus which surrounds your solitary efforts, even now. I'm not convinced that the world is always as she sees it. I'm also not willing to let what could be the wisdom of experience in the academy and in publishing pass me by without giving it some thought, like: what kind of writing would I like to be associated with? When people see your name in print, do you want people to say, "That's that funny/insightful/bookish/concise/unfathomable poet/scientist/essayist/scholar"?

Here is some of what I learned from hooks in Remembering Rapture, starkly rendered here for the sake of space though they are subtlely offered in the text:

Tips for (women) becoming a (great) writer, gleaned from bell hooks:

>>Write as if you are dying. What better way to make you use your time wisely? Who knows when you will be able to write no more, and you want to leave your trace, don't you?

>>Don't be a bore: essay writing can and should be creative, though it usually is not.

>>Write yourself into the text. From feminism we've learned that writing that does not use the pronoun "I" is not necessarily more objective. Scholarly writing can include "I".

>>It's YOUR story! When writing autobiographical work, or any work that relies on your version of events, remember that the way you remember events will differ from the way other people do (and that's okay!)

>>Don't ruin your mother's life! When writing autobiographical work, or other stories with real people in them, there are ethical questions you must consider in writing about the lives of other people

>> If you are a woman, expect to confront sexism. (Sorry to state the obvious.) Eg. asking women to think about how their writing will affect their children is sexist

>>Teach at a CEGEP (a college, in most juristictions outside Quebec): choose intellectual life over academic careerism (hooks teaches at the oh-so-prestigious City College of New York. Ever hear of it? Me either. But, she chose to work there because she can be a thinker there and at the same time teach young black people, which is important in her own politics.)

>>Get some smart friends. As a writer, you must have much solitary time to contemplate and to work. But you also need to have good conversations to stimulate your creativity.

>>Celebrate words. Choosing the right words is so powerful, as we who work in the mighty field of communication know. For example, hooks does not call herself a "black feminist" because these words participate in legitimizing a separate-but-equal feminism.

>>Show how brilliant you are by articulating your points so that a wide audience can understand them. Don't use language to obscure meaning. The point is not to render ideas less complex - the point is to make the complex clear.

>>Value your audience and know who they are! Who do you speak to? Let them stimulate your writing by communicating with you about things you've said.

>>IF YOU ARE A WOMAN, WRITE! NO WOMAN CAN WRITE TOO MUCH BECAUSE WOMEN HAVE NOT WRITTEN ENOUGH.

I'm still pondering some of the things hooks comes out with in this book, but I defintely like the "throw down" style of it - one that is also in her other essays. ( That's one of the uses that the writer can make of the short essay, says hooks!)

On the point of writing yourself into your work: I'd be willing to bet pecunia to pens and paper that hooks will make you think that you should write a bit of your own autobiography in whatever else you write. I have not been comfortable with this technique, instead adopting a dispassionate authorial voice over material that I have often felt passionate about. Hooks really makes me want to think and write about, as she works to do within her own conditions of living, how being a white woman from a working class background is interwoven with whatever else I choose to study. She asks those who are aspiring to write within academic venues if we're also apiring to betray our roots. Are you writing work that edifies who you are, or who you would like to become? But more about what this has to do with ME when I reflect on my own writing. . .see, this book allows you to reflect.

Finally, if you are a writer, writing should be a pleasure. The craft of writing is hard work, but if you feel that rapture when the work is done and the words are beaming out from the page, perhaps you are a writer after all.
5.0 out of 5 stars the rapture of hooks Sept. 18 2010
By Mizkaja - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
loved this book, it helped me to understand a lot this is needed reading for fresh writers
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