On Michael Jackson
There has been much re-issuing and re-packaging of Michael Jackson’s back catalogue since he died in 2009 and this slim volume – which was first issued in 2006 – has had a remix of sorts with a new introduction from Margo Jefferson, the Pulitzer Prize winning critic who came to prominence with her memoir Negroland. But this is a much more welcome re-release than all of the Thrillerre-rubs, as it remains one of the more perceptive write-ups on the self-styled King of Pop. She largely stays away from the genius of much of his output, and instead places his life in context, reaching right back to PT Barnum and minstrelsy (in the first chapter, Freaks). She talks about his tough upbringing (his father says he didn’t “beat him” – he used a strap) and his rise to fame as a child star and beyond – but her main concerns are not biographical; she’s more interested in the theory behind his skin colour, his sexuality and his attraction/affinity to/with (you decide) children. Not an account, then, of who Michael Jackson was, but an extended essay on what Michael Jackson means.