PositiveBookforumThe book is almost too constellatory to fully describe: its first half offers several chapters of groundwork, exploring the breadth of Black women artists’ culture-making over the course of the last one-hundred-plus years; its second half takes the baton with a focus on a handful of musicians and the critics, artists, and fans who have tried, with varying degrees of success, to frame their legacies. Brooks moves deftly between eras, from early-twentieth-century blues and vaudeville to Lemonade-era Beyoncé, just as she moves between language dense with academic conventions and playful, music-critic prose. The material is too expansive to be contained by any single mode ... Rather than argue a point, Brooks illuminates many ... It would maybe seem at odds with her Black feminism to seek out connections between, say, Greil Marcus and Angela Davis. But that generous curiosity is among Brooks’s strengths: Liner Notes functions as an indictment—of the general mishandling of Black women’s sonic legacies, and of specific mishandlings, too—but it is foremost an invitation to do more and better work, to view criticism as an act of love and artmaking as an act of historical imperative.
PositiveThe New York Times Book Review.... render[s] an intellectual debate intimate ... Talusan navigates these complex dynamics graciously, acknowledging both her privileges and their cost: the constant threat of being exposed as herself ... Bounding between place and time, Fairest’s shaky structure and inelegant sentences can sometimes threaten its momentum. But Talusan also toggles between emotional planes as well ... Although her account can grow tedious with anecdotal detail, there’s enough material in Talusan’s life story to fill several memoirs ... In telling this story, Talusan finds something like resolution: She gives voice to a self that somehow always existed, she just couldn’t yet see it.
PositivePitchforkThe book is more than a straight-forward account of Kelly’s wrongdoing. Structured across three sections that roughly trace the evolution of the public’s view of Kelly, Soulless offers a dogged combination of biography, investigative reporting, and cultural criticism ... He is careful to center the stories of his sources, and to contextualize their experiences ... As much as Soulless is an account of Kelly’s misbehavior, it’s a finger firmly pointed in the direction of the people and institutions that enabled, and even encouraged, him ... There are some minor missteps: In acknowledging himself as a self-aware outsider, DeRogatis leans a little too heavily on self-deprecation ... But Soulless/em> manages to get at that central question that I believe helped prompt a reversal of favor for Kelly back in late 2013: Why do some stories connect while others don’t? ... Jim DeRogatis’ work, viewed as a whole for the first time in Soulless, challenges us to make sure the truth isn’t erased again.