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WEDNESDAY

Jewish screenwriters in Hollywood, unlike Jews who live in other cities, never have to worry about being beaten, mugged or raped. That is partly why, Stanley Crouch reasons, we have so many movie heroines who get through all problems in life armed with only smarts and wisecracks. Granted, this thesis is more a matter-of-fact aside in a long meditation on Quentin Tarantino in his new book, The Artificial White Man: Essays on Authenticity. His full argument is a bit more nuanced, but moments like these make some wonder whether the cultural commentator needs to blunt his pencil. Still, when Crouch asks why Toni Morrison won’t write an intelligent character or calls hiphop stars “ignorant, misogynist knuckleheads…with…updated minstrel outfits,” he is more than a mere provocateur. There is a coherent message in this book, which examines Philip Roth, John Singleton, Michael Jackson, Saul Bellow, and other figures who have walked dangerous cultural chasms: Crouch is calling for a more integrated national culture, in which artists go outside themselves to discover something new. See if his message gets obscured by his mouth when Crouch reads at 7 p.m. at Politics and Prose, 5015 Connecticut Ave. NW. Free. (202) 364-1919. (Paul Morton)