Dominique Eddé, Edward Said: His Thought as a Novel

Edward Said: His Thought as a Novel by Dominique Eddé My rating: 4 of 5 stars This book, originally published in France in 2017, has been out in America in its English translation (by Trista Selous and Ros Schwartz) for about three months. Yet there are no reviews on Goodreads or Amazon, and no reviews … Continue reading Dominique Eddé, Edward Said: His Thought as a Novel

Maggie Nelson, The Argonauts

The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson My rating: 2 of 5 stars This theory-inflected memoir of "(queer) family making," to quote the jacket copy, so assiduously defends itself that there is little point formally reviewing it. There is even a little parable early in the book that guides you in how to read it: in a … Continue reading Maggie Nelson, The Argonauts

Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates My rating: 4 of 5 stars It is a poor period indeed which must assess its men of letters in terms of their opposition to their society. Opposition to life’s essential conditions perhaps, or to death’s implacable tyranny, is something else again, and universal; but novels, no … Continue reading Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me

John Marsh, In Walt We Trust: How a Queer Socialist Poet Can Save America from Itself

In Walt We Trust: How a Queer Socialist Poet Can Save America from Itself by John Marsh My rating: 4 of 5 stars In Walt We Trust is blessedly less reductive than its overeager title and subtitle make it sound. John Marsh is a professor at Penn State specializing in American poetry and the literature … Continue reading John Marsh, In Walt We Trust: How a Queer Socialist Poet Can Save America from Itself

Art Spiegelman, Maus

The Complete Maus by Art Spiegelman My rating: 5 of 5 stars Our life happens to be such that a child, as soon as it can run about a little and a little distinguish one thing from another, must look after itself just like an adult; the areas on which, for economic reasons, we have … Continue reading Art Spiegelman, Maus

David Attwell, J. M. Coetzee and the Life of Writing: Face-to-Face with Time

J. M. Coetzee and the Life of Writing: Face-to-Face with Time by David Attwell My rating: 4 of 5 stars David Attwell’s book is billed as a “literary biography,” presumably so as not to scare off the common reader, for whom it seems to be intended. But it is more like a critical study of … Continue reading David Attwell, J. M. Coetzee and the Life of Writing: Face-to-Face with Time

Wittgensteinian Investigations

David Auerbach on why you should take a Wittgenstein class: Wittgenstein’s philosophy also accounts for the disastrous state of Internet discourse today. The shift to online communication, textual interactions separated from accompanying physical practices, has had a persistent and egregious warping effect on language, and one that most people don’t even understand. It has made … Continue reading Wittgensteinian Investigations

Sigrid Nunez, Sempre Susan: A Memoir of Susan Sontag

Sempre Susan: A Memoir of Susan Sontag by Sigrid Nunez My rating: 4 of 5 stars I'll admit to a prurient interest in Sontagiana. I've always liked Sontag—well, always is a Sontag-like exaggeration, but I do believe I bought a '60s paperback of Against Interpretation, with her face in close-up on the cover, when I … Continue reading Sigrid Nunez, Sempre Susan: A Memoir of Susan Sontag

Marjane Satrapi, Persepolis 1

Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi My rating: 3 of 5 stars This first part of Marjane Satrapi's memoir of a childhood spent—in a well-off and liberal family—amid the upheavals of the Iranian Revolution has become a contemporary classic. What are the sources of its success? Persepolis has a very literary structure, … Continue reading Marjane Satrapi, Persepolis 1

Frederick Douglass, Narrative of the Life

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass My rating: 5 of 5 stars Revisiting this for the American literature survey I'm teaching; it's been about a decade. Upon rereading, what stands out is Douglass's careful attention to the social dimension of slave resistance, a theme of the book that can be overshadowed … Continue reading Frederick Douglass, Narrative of the Life