December 06, 2006 at 05:00 AM EST

Amiri Baraka’s Tales of the Out & the Gone, an aptly titled book, is an eccentric brew of sci-fi and social commentary. The first half (”War Stories”), penned during the ’70s and ’80s, is a black-nationalist-inspired reconstruction of traditional storytelling. ”Norman’s Date,” the account of a playboy’s night out, and ”Blank,” an eerie case of corporate-world amnesia, boast plot twists and unconventional dialogue. In the book’s second half, experimental story-poems use ”Rhythm Spectroscopic Transformation” and ”crazy-ass flying Reeboks” to show America’s power imbalance, and ways the disadvantaged can escape.

You May Like