Join BookBrowse today and get access to free books, our twice monthly digital magazine, and more.

Reviews of I Just Keep Talking by Nell Painter

I Just Keep Talking

A Life in Essays

by Nell Irvin Painter

I Just Keep Talking by Nell Irvin Painter X
I Just Keep Talking by Nell Irvin Painter
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • Published:
    Apr 2024, 464 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Valerie Morales
Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

From the New York Times bestselling author of The History of White People and Old in Art School, a finalist for the NBCC Award, comes a comprehensive new collection of essays spanning art, politics, and the legacy of racism that shapes American history as we know it.

Throughout her prolific writing career, Nell Painter has published works on such luminaries as Sojourner Truth, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Malcolm X. Her unique vantage on American history pushes the boundaries of personal narrative and academic authorship. Led by an unbridled curiosity for her subjects, Painter asks readers to reconsider ideas of race, politics, and identity. I Just Keep Talking assembles her writing for the first time into a single volume, displaying the breadth and depth of Painter's decades-long historical inquiry and the evolution of Black political thought—and includes a dazzling introduction and coda being published for the first time in this collection. From her mining of figures like Carrie Buck and Martin Delaney for their resonance today, to a deep dive into the history of exclusion through the work of Toni Morrison, to a discussion of the American political landscape after the 2016 election, Painter nimbly portrays the trials of a country frequently at war with itself.

Along with Painter's writing, this collection offers her original artwork, threaded throughout the book as counterpoint and emphasis. Her visual art shows a deft mind turning toward the tragedy and humor of her subjects; pulling from newspapers, personal records, and original sketches, Painter's artwork testifies to the dialectic of tremendous change and stasis that continues to shape American history.

These essays resist easy answers in favor of complexity, the inescapable sense of our country's potential thwarted by its failures. This collection will surely solidify Painter's place among the finest critics and writers of the last half century.

Introduction

EGO HISTOIRE

It's a good thing I didn't die young. Meaning it's a good thing for my reputation that I didn't die during the full-blown era of White-male­ default segregation, discrimination, and disappearance that wound down only yesterday. I would have disappeared from memory, just another forgotten Black woman scholar, invisible to history and to histography. So much in me-a dark-skinned Black woman, always very smart, born in Houston in the Houston Hospital for Negroes in 1942-was suited for disregard. No family drama. My parents were married; they stayed married in as good a heterosexual marriage as Americans born in 1917 and 1919 could have and that lasted seventy­ two years-until my mother's death. We were never poor, though never rich, and physical violence and addiction played no part in my family. My parents supported me emotionally and materially for more than forty years. There's not much there in my life to match what my country likes to recognize as a ...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

From her unique lens as an artist and Princeton history professor emerita, Painter delivers intellectual think pieces that go beyond the easily digestible kind that become the subject of social media catfights. They reflect decades of scholarship. While the stunning introductory essay "Ego Histoire" is mostly autobiographical, a section of it retells a little-known Reconstruction-era murder. Interrogation of slavery is the subtext of Painter's "'Introduction' in Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Written by Herself," about the memoir by Harriet Jacobs. "Elitism and Black Nationalism" tells the story of historical black nationalist-dreamer Martin R. Delany. After she retired from Princeton, Painter studied at the Rhode Island School of Design. Her book is filled with original artwork, like Beloveds He Saw Her Pink (2013), an ink graphite collage on paper inspired by Toni Morrison's spectacular novel Beloved...continued

Full Review Members Only (903 words)

(Reviewed by Valerie Morales).

Media Reviews

Time Magazine
For the past five decades, acclaimed writer, artist, historian, and critic Nell Irvin Painter's work has felt ahead of its time….This insightful anthology shows why Painter, now 81 years old, is still one of the most important voices in America.

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
Painter... gathers more than 40 previously published essays, framed by a new introduction and coda, reflecting her shrewd analyses of issues including race, class, and gender; history and historiography; police brutality and poverty; art, education, and politics... A vibrant, insightful collection from an indispensable voice.

Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Razor-sharp analysis lights up every page…[I Just Keep Talking] affirms Painter's reputation as a historian and political commentator par excellence.

Author Blurb David W. Blight, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom
Nell Painter is one of the most important and versatile American historians of the last half century. This stunning array of essays…contains a potent autobiographical sizzle from introduction to the end…Prolific, provocative, and with a voice all her own, Painter reveals with admirable vulnerability a mind in transit through time.

Author Blurb Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Alphonse Fletcher University Professor, Harvard University
Nell Irvin Painter is one of the towering Black intellects of the last half century…[I Just Keep Talking] is more than an odyssey for the senses; it's a revelation that will inspire courage in anyone seeking to express their truth.

Author Blurb Honorée Fanonne Jeffers, author of The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois
Give thanks that Nell Irvin Painter won't stop talking—and thinking and writing and bringing the truth. And give thanks for these sage words on art, on history, on Blackness, on America, on survival from this bone-strong woman who keeps on keeping on, in glorious insistence.

Reader Reviews

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book

Sojourner Truth Was Invisible — Or Was She?

Albumen silver print portrait of Sojourner Truth in the 1850s, showing her seated with paper in hand It was May of 1851 when 54-year-old Sojourner Truth took the stage. Truth, who would become one of the most famous women of any race of the nineteenth century, spoke her personal testimony to the mostly white audience at the Women's Rights Convention in Akron, Ohio. She was the only speaker who had been enslaved and the room was captivated by her height, forthrightness, and passion.

In the audience that day was Marius Robinson, a secretary for the convention who was speedily taking notes. His account of Truth's speech was published in the abolitionist newspaper The Anti-Slavery Bugle three weeks later. One of the more powerful moments of the speech as recorded by Robinson was when she said, "I can't read, but I can hear. I have ...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Read-Alikes

Read-Alikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked I Just Keep Talking, try these:

  • Chasing Me to My Grave jacket

    Chasing Me to My Grave

    by Winfred Rembert

    Published 2023

    About this book

    Winfred Rembert grew up in a family of Georgia field laborers and joined the Civil Rights Movement as a teenager. He was arrested after fleeing a demonstration, survived a near-lynching at the hands of law enforcement, and spent seven years on chain gangs.

  • How the Word Is Passed jacket

    How the Word Is Passed

    by Clint Smith

    Published 2022

    About this book

    The Atlantic staff writer and poet Clint Smith's revealing, contemporary portrait of America as a slave owning nation.

Read-Alikes are one of the many benefits of membership. To see the complete list of this book's read-alikes, you need to be a member.
More books by Nell Painter
Search read-alikes
How we choose read-alikes

Books with similar themes


Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Join our inner reading circle, go ad-free and get way more!

Find out more


Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: Long After We Are Gone
    Long After We Are Gone
    by Terah Shelton Harris
    Terah Shelton Harris's marvelous family drama Long After We Are Gone begins with the death of the ...
  • Book Jacket: Exhibit
    Exhibit
    by R O. Kwon
    Exhibit, R.O. Kwon's sophomore novel (after The Incendiaries, 2018), introduces readers to Jin Han, ...
  • Book Jacket: Somehow
    Somehow
    by Anne Lamott
    Anne Lamott knows a thing or two about love. In fact, there is so much of it exuding from her essay ...
  • Book Jacket
    The Wings Upon Her Back
    by Samantha Mills
    Faith is a delicate thing. At its best, it can offer peace in times of crisis. At its worst, it can ...

BookBrowse Book Club

Book Jacket
Long After We Are Gone
by Terah Shelton Harris
After their father's death, four siblings rally to save their family home in this gripping and hopeful tale.
Book Jacket
The Pecan Children
by Quinn Connor
Two sisters deeply tied to their small Southern town fight to break free of the darkness swallowing the land whole.
Win This Book
Win Bright and Tender Dark

Bright and Tender Dark by Joanna Pearson

A beautifully written, wire-taut debut novel about a murder on a college campus and its aftermath twenty years later.

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

A W in S C

and be entered to win..

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.