Hilton Als

Summer Reading 2015

The Summer Reading Committee chose Hilton Als' White Girls, as the summer text for the fall semester of 2015. Incoming students are required to purchase and complete the reading before their arrival on campus in the fall.

Book Description

White Girls, Hilton Als’s first book since The Women 16 years ago, finds one of The New Yorker's boldest cultural critics deftly weaving together his brilliant analyses of literature, art, and music with fearless insights on race, gender, and history. The result is an extraordinary, complex portrait of “white girls,” as Als dubs them—an expansive but precise category that encompasses figures as diverse as Truman Capote and Louise Brooks, Michael Jackson and Flannery O’Connor. In pieces that hairpin between critique and meditation, fiction and nonfiction, high culture and low, the theoretical and the deeply personal, Als presents a stunning portrait of a writer by way of his subjects, and an invaluable guide to the culture of our time.

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. 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. Agent: Jeffrey Posternak, Wylie Agency. (Nov.) --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.(https://store.mcsweeneys.net/products/white-girls).



Summer Reading Requirements 

Each year, Wentworth requires all incoming students to participate in a shared reading experience. The purpose of this assignment is two-fold:

  • First, when you arrive on campus this fall for Wentworth Opening Week, you and all your new classmates will have something in common. You will have shared your first academic experience.

  • The second purpose of the assignment is to prepare you for the college-level environment. During opening week, you will have your first opportunity to discuss the summer reading book. Then, when you begin classes you may discuss and write about this book.

Past Summer Reading Selections

  • 2014 - Madeline Miller's The Song of Achilles
  • 2013 - Damien Echols' Life After Death
  • 2012 - Hemon Aleksandar's Love & Obstacles
  • 2011 - Junot Diaz's The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
  • 2010 - Dennis Lehane's Mystic River
  • 2009 - Frederick Reiken's The Odd Sea
  • 2008 - Andre Dubus III's House of Sand and Fog
  • 2007 - Truman Capote's In Cold Blood

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