- Purchase/rental options available:
This essay reviews Stephen Best’s None Like Us: Blackness, Belonging, Aesthetic Life in relation to the ongoing reading debates in literary studies and the methodological practices of black studies. Best’s work, I argue, expands upon the practice of surface reading he and Sharon Marcus introduced to reveal how an attention to surfaces, which I recharacterize as “topological reading,” disrupts misleading seductions of interpretation that remain grounded in allegory. In doing so, Best further reveals the value of surface reading for black studies in particular, which, with its focus on recovery in the archive, is particularly susceptible to “deep” reading practices that aim to construct utopian communitarian notions of black being and belonging. I conclude the review by explicating a brief allusion Best makes to Afropessimism in order to detail the political implications of Best’s insistence on negativity and the “anti-communitarian undertone” he locates in black studies.