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Visions of America: Personal Narratives from the Promised Landby Wesley Brown
Synopses & Reviews
Thirty-six writers of diverse racial and cultural backgrounds explore the specific tensions of being American with roots in another culture and also address historical moments which have defined American life during this century--the battle at Wounded Knee, the Second World War, the civil rights movement, and the Vietnam War, among them. Powerful, first-person accounts, they follow different paths. But each one is driven by the deep need to bear witness and to bring coherence to personal and collective experience.
The contributors are: James Baldwin, Wendell Berry, Carlos Bulosan, Judith Ortiz Cofer, Joan Didion, W. E. B. Du Bois, Charles Alexander Eastman, Gretel Ehrlich, James Farmer, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Mary Gordon, Vivian Gornick, Jessica Hagedon, Barbara Grizzuti Harrison, Eva Hoffman, June Jordan, Maxine Hong Kingston, Kim Yong Ik, Ron Kovic, Paule Marshall, Pablo Medina, N. Scott Momaday, Bharati Mukherjee, Geoffrey O'Brien, Gregory Orfalea, Sonia Pilcer, Mario Puzo, Jonathan Raban, Adrienne Rich, Richard Rodriguez, Anton Shammas, Monica Stone, Gary Soto, Michael Stephens, Sui Sin Far, and Anzia Yezierska.
Visions of America is the nonfiction companion to Imagining America: Stories from the Promised Land, also edited by Wesley Brown and Amy Ling.
In this rich and diverse collection, three dozen 20th-century writers muse about their experiences in and observations of America. Though the essays are organized in rough chronological fashion, some emphasize place (Barbara Grizzuti Harrison on Bensonhurst, Michael Stephens on Hawaii), others identity (Richard Rodriguez on language, Eva Hoffman on postmodern uncertainty), others the immigrant experience (Bharati Mukherjee) or the changing times (Joan Didion on the 1960s, James Farmer on the civil rights movement). Some Americans must leave home to find insights (June Jordan in the Bahamas), while some non-Americans come here to observe, such as the Palestinian Anton Shammas (who sees the country as big enough to contain the portable homelands brought by immigrants). Amidst the play of ideas and emotions surrounding ethnicity and identity, essays by Wendell Berry and Gretel Ehrlich celebrate the enduring truths of the land.
This anthology of personal essay and autobiography follows the waves of immigration into and migration within the United States from 1900 to the present.
Thirty-six noted contemporary writers respond to a hundred years of American life from perspectives of "semi-otherness." A classroom classic.
The personal narratives in this rich and diverse collection—companion to the story collection Imagining America—address the historical moments which have defined American life from a multicultural point of view. Among them are Charles Alexander Eastman on the battle at Wounded Knee; James Farmer and James Baldwin on the civil rights movement; Ron Kovic on Viet Nam; Barbara Grizzuti Harrison on race and class in Bensonhurst; Joan Didion on the 1960s; Maxine Hong Kingston, Jessica Hagedorn, and Gary Soto on the immigrant experience; Gretel Ehrlich and Wendell Berry on the American landscape itself.
About the Author
Wesley Brown, novelist and playwright, is also the editor of Imagining America and Visions of America. He is on the faculty of Rutgers University.Amy Ling (d. 1999), critic and scholar, was the founding director of the Asian American Studies Program at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
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