A Sense of Wonder: Samuel R. Delany, Race, Identity, And Difference (Book Review) By Extrapolation

A Sense of Wonder: Samuel R. Delany, Race, Identity, And Difference (Book Review)

By Extrapolation

  • Release Date: 2005-09-22
  • Genre: Language Arts & Disciplines

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Description

Jeffrey Allen Tucker. A Sense of Wonder: Samuel R. Delany, Race, Identity, and Difference. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 2004. 356 pp. $24.95 pbk. Jeffrey Allen Tucker's new volume on Samuel Delany is aptly titled, for a variety of reasons, but most remarkably because Tucker really likes Delany, really wonders at his spellbinding achievements in science and mundane fictions, nonfiction, autobiography, critical theory, and pornography. That Tucker's book is the first full-length volume on Delany's oeuvre in a number of years is a testament in itself to his genuine appreciation for Delany's consistent and extraordinary exploration of the margins of everything from genre to sex to death. Tucker examines the tortured history of the notion of wonder, evident in such commentary as Darko Suvin's sniff that wonder is due "for a deserved retirement into the same limbo as extrapolation" (Tucker 32). Indeed the persistence of the present journal's title as well as Tucker's book suggests that neither wonder nor extrapolation ought to fade into the sunset just yet. Tucker observes that wonder seems to have the same worried condition as identity and race, and as he both preserves and defends a delightful sense of wonder, Tucker also wishes to revisit the matter of identity in Delany's work. For me, a sense of wonder is speechlessness, even if only temporary, a speechlessness that quietly bleeds into my subsequent speech, leaves my speech wanting just a little. Tucker it seems has felt this speechlessness, and has found words to speak to Delany, even as he knows Delany sometimes eludes. Tucker's task in A Sense of Wonder is to "invent," as he puts it, a Delany who is a vital member of the African American literary tradition. And inasmuch as Delany both presents himself to and eludes us does Tucker both succeed and fail. I wonder myself at the tortured history of identity, and as such, I speak to Tucker's project in the face of a certain speechlessness about it.