• Essays, 1985-1990

  • by Kenneth McClane

  • 122 pages, 5.50 x 8.50

  • Paperback | 9780268035204 | September 2010

  • Hardcover | 9780268207151 | September 2022

  • eBook (Web PDF) | 9780268086824 | September 2010

  • African American Intellectual Heritage


Walls: Essays, 1985-1990, Kenneth McClane's first book of autobiographical essays (originally published in 1991), is closely related to his second collection, Color, published by the University of Notre Dame Press in 2009. Walls is a powerful and deeply moving meditation on relationships. It begins with an essay on the death of McClane's brother, Paul, which "changed everything. Time, my work, everything found a new calculus."

His brother's life and death are present in some way in all the essays that follow "A Death in the Family," as McClane tells us about giving a poetry reading in a maximum-security prison; his experience of being one of the first two African American students to attend America's oldest private school; teaching creative writing; his sister, Adrienne; a divestment protest at Cornell; and his encounters with James Baldwin.

McClane has written a new preface to this paperback edition of Walls, in which he reminds us that we are inevitably interconnected: we are each other’s witness.