by Amiri Baraka
The complete autobiography of a literary legend.
Although this edition of Baraka's autobiography restores substantial cuts made to the original Freundlich Books publication (LJ 1/84), the basic structure of the work remains unchanged: it covers Baraka's youth in Newark, stint in the air force, Beat years in Greenwich Village, role in the Black Arts movement, and conversion from black nationalism to communism around 1974. It is puzzling that this edition continues to disguise key people and publications. For instance, Baraka refers to his ex-wife, Hettie Cohen, as Nellie Kohn; poet Diane DiPrima as Lucia DiBella; and the Partisan Review as the Sectarian Review. What purpose can this obfuscation serve when How I Became Hettie Jones (LJ 2/15/90) has already named names? It will be interesting to see how DiPrima's forthcoming autobiography deals with the same scene. Recommended for libraries lacking the earlier edition.-William Gargan, Brooklyn Coll. Lib., CUNY
Paperbac: 496 pages