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The Essential Ellen Willis

The Essential Ellen Willis

"A cognitive tension in my early childhood sprang from comparing my mother, who wanted to read books all the time, with the housewives of TV commercials, made ecstatic by floor wax and laundry detergent. A few years on and reading The Village Voice and Rolling Stone, Ellen Willis showed me that such tensions in everything we care about--music and popular culture; political, legal, and cultural institutions of all kinds; ethnicity and gender; even down to the ways we think about each other walking down the street--all these things can be described, teased out, and illuminated if your thought process is sufficiently demanding and your language lively and precise. "Formative" doesn't describe these pieces, because it suggests they have a shelf life. Like other great essayists, Willis's work breaks out of its time period because it reaches endlessly vital questions."

Mark L.

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Author Ellen Willis
Publisher Univ Of Minnesota Press
Publication Date 2014-05-01
Section Essays / New Titles - Paperback / All Staff Suggestions / Non-Fiction Suggestions / Mark L.
Type New
Format Paperback
ISBN 9780816681211

Out of the Vinyl Deeps, published in 2011, introduced a new generation to the incisive, witty, and merciless voice of Ellen Willis through her pioneering rock music criticism. In the years that followed, Willis’s daring insights went beyond popular music, taking on such issues as pornography, religion, feminism, war, and drugs.

The Essential Ellen Willis gathers writings that span forty years and are both deeply engaged with the times in which they were first published and yet remain fresh and relevant amid today’s seemingly intractable political and cultural battles. Whether addressing the women’s movement, sex and abortion, race and class, or war and terrorism, Willis brought to each a distinctive attitude—passionate yet ironic, clear-sighted yet hopeful.

Offering a compelling and cohesive narrative of Willis’s liberationist “transcendence politics,” the essays—among them previously unpublished and uncollected pieces—are organized by decade from the 1960s to the 2000s, with each section introduced by young writers who share Willis’s intellectual bravery, curiosity, and lucidity: Irin Carmon, Spencer Ackerman, Cord Jefferson, Ann Friedman, and Sara Marcus. The Essential Ellen Willis concludes with excerpts from Willis’s unfinished book about politics and the cultural unconscious, introduced by her longtime partner, Stanley Aronowitz. An invaluable reckoning of American society since the 1960s, this volume is a testament to an iconoclastic and fiercely original voice.

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