WINGING IT: Improv's Power & Peril in the Time of Trump by Randy Fertel

SKU: 9780882141589a

In Winging It, literary scholar and cultural polymath Randy Fertel returns to the interrogation of improvisation he began with his earlier work A Taste for Chaos (2015). In this new volume, Fertel explores the wider landscapes of popular culture and public affairs, ranging deftly from the unmediated experience in Fred Astaire’s tap dancing, Frans Hals’s brush strokes, hook-up culture, psychedelic trips, social media, and Hamilton’s hip-hop to—last, though not least—the performative and demagogic posturing of Donald Trump. The gesture all improvisations share—“I will create this on the fly,” or as Trump has it, “my gut knows more than many brains”—defies rationality and elevates embodied emotions, instinct, and intuition, challenging our assumption that everything of value depends upon long study, tradition, and hard work. Claiming to be free of serious purpose, improvisation only pursues pleasure. Or so it says.

Randy Fertel is a writer and philanthropist dedicated to the arts, education, New Orleans, and the environment. Fertel holds a Ph.D. in English and American literature from Harvard University and is the author of A Taste for Chaos: The Art of Literary Improvisation and The Gorilla Man and the Empress of Steak: A New Orleans Family Memoir. Fertel has taught English at Harvard University, Tulane University, LeMoyne College, and the New School for Social Research. He specializes in the literature of the Vietnam War and the literature of exile. In addition to his writing, Fertel is president of the Fertel Foundation and the Ruth U. Fertel Foundation, named for his mother Ruth Fertel, founder of Ruth’s Chris Steak House. He lives in New Orleans and New York.

Randy Fertel is a master at unveiling theatrical illusion. In this brilliant book, he shines a piercing light into the shadows of the so-called improv style in politics. Winging It reveals the concealed instincts and the fierce emotional currents that keep a rapacious predator aloft.
   — Murray Stein, author of Jung’s Map of the Soul

At the farmers market, I’m responding to color, and smell, and I’m following my intuition. In my kitchen when I’m imagining how things will lead from here, I’m improvising. In his artful and authoritative new book Winging It, Randy Fertel explores how improvisation shapes and enlivens our wider world. Yield to your impulses, act spontaneously, and get this book—it’s a revelation.
    — Alice Waters, Founder of Chez Panisse and the Edible Schoolyard

In Winging It, Randy Fertel presents a wide ranging and masterful study of the art of improvisation that will delight scholars and lay readers alike. The work’s true fascination lies in its adept analysis of the political implications of the quicksilver art form. It is a work to be savored slowly and thoughtfully, especially in anticipation of the upcoming elections.
         —Jessica B. Harris, author of High on the Hog: How African American Cuisine Transformed America 



Price: $29.95