In his introduction to his latest book of essays, Another Day on the Front, Ishmael Reed compares essay writing to sparring in a gym all day. I couldn’t agree more. Essays are the writer’s calisthenics. They’re not as ‘glamorous’ as novels, as ‘important’ as political tomes, as ‘serious’ as books of history and journalism, as ‘self-indulgent’ as memoirs, as ‘affecting’ as books of poetry, or as ‘marketable’ as self-help books. Notwithstanding these ‘shortcomings’ they are necessary to both readers and writers. Essays keep writers sharp, fit, ready to meet the task of sorting out the world, de-mystifying it, eliminating the illusions we live by and so forth. They’re where writers get to speak without artifice or literary pretense to an audience hungry for searching, stumbling, but always steadfast voice of a kindred spirit. – from Dax’s introduction
Derek Beres & Dax-Devlon Ross founded Outside the Box Publishing in 2005. That year photojournalist Beres birthed Global Beat Fusion: The History of the Future of Music, and more recently Tangled Web: The Best Music Tour You Never Heard Of. Dax published Beat of a Different Drum: The Untold Stories of African-Americans Forging Their Own Paths in Work and Life (Hyperion) in 2006, and more recently saw the The Underdog’s Manifesto: A Guerilla Artist’s Path to Independence, co-written with hip-hop artist Creature, and his novel The Best of Intentions come to life. A Staircase of Words, Volume One: Essays is the first chapter in an ongoing series of books co-written by these two men. Giving voice to their long-held and discussed philosophies on such topics as basketball, yoga, social relations, film, music, politics and psilocybin mushrooms, A Staircase of Words is a fine collection of essays from two authors whose voices are quickly finding their way into many minds.
Sacred Tripping: A Brief History on Mushrooms * The Long Valley: Walking Through Ritual in New York City * Juice: A Cautionary Publishing Tale with a Genuinely Inspiring Ending * Peace Within the Fury: The Tumbling of Industry and Return to Ritual * The Promise: A Gut-wrenching Tale of Friendship, Loyalty and the American Prison System * Skeletons Emerge at Night: A Leaning Tower Crashes into Concrete * Vanillaroma: An Outrageous Tale of Air-Fresheners, Terror and Racial Profiling Run Amuck * Hasidic Reggae’s First Born Son: Matisyahu Chants the Torah in Babylon * Confessions of a (Washed Up) Ballplayer: Or How Allen Iverson Ended My Basketball Career * Laughing the Sacred: Journeying with Medicine of the Profane * Jury Duty: A Stream of Consciousness Encounter with Shopenhaur and Rosseau * Borat in Babel: Architects of the Tower * Young Black and Disgraced: A Three-Week Obsession with Deception * Will the Real Yoga Please Step Forward?