21

FRIDAY

Michael Eric Dyson has made a career writing the master’s-thesis equivalent of the supermarket paperback. He’s cashed in on Tupac, MLK Jr., Malcolm X, and now Marvin Gaye, with Mercy, Mercy Me: The Art, Loves, & Demons of Marvin Gaye. Sure, Gaye was a truly messed-up man—addicted to women, coke, and Jesus—who died at the hands of his crazy, cross-dressing father. But that’s evident without Dyson’s armchair diagnosis: “The Gay family’s Afroedipal dynamics were intensified by Father’s aesthetic and erotic mimicking of Mother’s gender—Father, in a sense, was in sexual competition with Mother.” Maddeningly, Gaye’s musical legacy gets a similar treatment. And what even-handed bio would be complete without a section in which R. Kelly discusses his own troubles—which he bizarrely compares to those of Pac-Man? Vent your spleen when Dyson reads at 7 p.m. at Politics and Prose, 5015 Connecticut Ave. NW. Free. (202) 364-1919. (Jason Cherkis)

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