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Studies in American Fiction127 to acknowledge the distinctiveness of his biracial, bicultural double consciousness and affirming the authority, authenticity, and agency ofhis firsthand experience as an African American writer to a double audience in the conclusion ofthe paratextual "Forethought," Du Bois, whom Young quotes but interprets quite differently, writes: "I who speak here am bone of the bone and flesh of the flesh of them that live within the Veil" (19). In each of the shifts in Du Bois's above three texts, African American double consciousness, because of the legacy of institutionalized anti-black racism, was clearly not the fate of all ethnic immigrants and hyphenated Americans struggling individually and collectively for equal human and civil rights as citizens of the United States. I remain convinced of my conclusion in W. E. B. Du Bois on Race and Culture (1996) that "Du Boisian double consciousness continues to be a vital and viable rhetorical sign: first, of the dynamics of continuity and change in the biracial, bicultural state of being in the world with others; second, of the existential site of socialized cultural ambivalence and the emancipatory possibilities of personal and social transformation; and third, of an epistemological mode of critical inquiry for interpreting the rich complexity of African American culture, especially literature" (105-6). Although Young fallaciously assumes that the monolithic concepts ofblackness, minority, and alterity appropriately designate the racial, ethnic, and nationaluniqueness ofAfricanAmerican writers in their relationship to white publishers and readers, Black Writers, White Publishers is a highly provocative, occasionally original, and useful reminder of the double consciousness, double audience, and price ofcommercial and critical success oftwentieth-century black American writers. The Pennsylvania State UniversityBernard W. Bell Clarke, Deborah, Driving Women: Fiction and Automobile Culture in Twentieth-Century America. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, 2007. 225 pp. Cloth: $49; Paper: $25. Deborah Clarke backgrounds her study of American women's automotive fiction with a brief and useful survey of early twentieth-century documents about motoring women: editorials, medical opinions, and advertisements . These documents register ambivalence about driving women that plays out over the century. On one hand there are fears that the "motor " will take women away from their homes, exaggerate their sense of personal freedom, lure them into the workplace, and remove them from male surveillance. On the other hand, there is hope that the automobile will free women from domestic confinement, grant them more personal 128Reviews freedom, and open doors to professional development. Car ads in the teens pitched both sides. The motor could ferry Mom to social engagements and sweep her and the children into pastoral retreats. Or it could, in the words of a Ford ad, "expedite the affairs" of a businesswoman . Clarke follows automotive advertisement into the mid and late twentieth century. The early themes persist, but as the century wanes, feminist messages sometimes blur into fantasies ofmale sexual control over both women and cars. Despite the book's title, Clarke's important work is done in the early chapters. Her analysis of women's road fiction does succeed with treatments ofEdith Wharton, Barbara Kingsolver, Jane Smiley, and Bobbie Ann Mason. For example, she writes of Mason's In Country protagonist Sam that she rejects "the construction of a bourgeois humanist self" for "an identity based on . . . movement. The car provides the ideal trope for such a self, functioning both as an individual vehicle and apart oftraffic" (122). But other literary treatments suffer from stilted plot summary and mealy jargon. Clarke advances a few dubious generalities. In a chapter titled "Mobile Homelessness," for instance, she cites the growingpopularity ofmodular homes as evidence that "the mobile home may be a more 'American' solution than we care to admit" (144). But the vast majority of such homes, I would guess, stay put. And Clarke ends this chapter by saying that the growing number of homeless women, the increased dependence on cars, and the decline in affordable housing "combine to illustrate that the promise of home is no longer valid. Increased technology—and increased surveillance —has rendered any notion of privacy within the home meaningless. . . . The car's fragility and mobility proffers a more realistic location for home than the standard, grounded dwelling. The...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2158-5806
Print ISSN
0091-8083
Pages
pp. 127-128
Launched on MUSE
2014-10-01
Open Access
No
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