Book Review: Sun Ra ” The Execution of Sun Ra…” a must-read book!

Sun Ra book by Thomas StanleyAuthor: Thomas Stanley
Title: The Execution of Sun Ra: The Mysterious Tale of a Dark Body Sent to Earth to Usher in an Unprecedented Era of Cosmic Regeneration and Happiness (Volume II)
Format: Paperback
Publisher:  Wasteland Press (April 18, 2014)
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About the book: The Execution of Sun Ra is a 6 x 9″, 242-page paperback with b&w images by William Brower, Leon Collins, Yusef Jones, Lee Santa, Paula Stanley, Charles Steck, and Michael Wilderman. The cover illustration was done by Erica Fallin and the book design by Al Morrow. Author and cyberpunk theorist Kirby Malone provided editing. Kifah Foutah provided editorial assistance.

Review by Richard Bennett

Photo courtesy of Luke Stewart

Photo courtesy of Luke Stewart

Sun Ra was best known as a composer, bandleader, pianist, space traveller, entertainer and dresser. He is somewhat less remembered for his philosophy of this and other worlds. Thomas Stanley aims to fix these omissions in his new book The Execution of Sun Ra.

Less a biography than a series of essays riffing on various aspects of Ra’s life and thought, Stanley’s style is alternately fascinating, digressive, obscure and maddening. There are excellent chapters on the Ra’s asexuality (different from celibacy; who knew) and the implications of his crucial encounter with aliens.

An especially good chapter is devoted to the question of Sun Ra’s sanity (the author votes for sane) with some interesting stories of Stanley’s own experiences working in a half-way house. Disappointingly little is written about the music itself, but Stanley has compiled a superb collection of tracks on youtube to accompany the various chapters.

The Execution of Sun Ra is not for the novice and is unlikely to convince the uninitiated of his somewhat diverse genius. For the Ra completist it is more essential. Stanley is like a verbose dinner guest. If you’re interested in what he has to say, he is well worth hearing.