Valeria Luiselli, Lost Children Archive

Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli My rating: 4 of 5 stars Intellectuals played at crusaders and revolutionaries only to discover they were still patricians and liberals. [...] "Liberalism" seems a vast, obscure, swampy territory one never emerges from, no matter how one tries—and perhaps one never should. —Susan Sontag, As Consciousness Is Harnessed to Flesh, … Continue reading Valeria Luiselli, Lost Children Archive

Susan Sontag, Regarding the Pain of Others

Regarding the Pain of Others by Susan Sontag My rating: 3 of 5 stars Susan Sontag's oeuvre is a long palinode. Identified for years with the positions she took, or at least appeared to take, in the 1960s, she seemed to spend the rest of her life strategically retracting or at least clarifying and qualifying … Continue reading Susan Sontag, Regarding the Pain of Others

Adrienne Rich, Diving into the Wreck

Diving into the Wreck: Poems 1971-1972 by Adrienne Rich My rating: 3 of 5 stars In the blurb on the cover of this paperback, Margaret Atwood promises that this book "forces you to decide not just what you think about it, but what you think about yourself." Rich's seventh collection, written in the early '70s, … Continue reading Adrienne Rich, Diving into the Wreck

Georg Lukács, The Meaning of Contemporary Realism

The Meaning of Contemporary Realism by Georg Lukács My rating: 2 of 5 stars I have always been attracted to the idea that art was more than about taste. Tabooed by postmodernism, which understands art and its appreciation to be wholly contingent social constructs serving various and sundry vested interests, this intuition that art could … Continue reading Georg Lukács, The Meaning of Contemporary Realism

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

Cynthia Ozick, The Din in the Head

The Din in the Head by Cynthia Ozick My rating: 3 of 5 stars This 2006 essay collection begins with an appreciation of Susan Sontag, who had died in 2004. Ozick retells Sontag's intellectual biography, from avant-garde champion of the counterculture in the 1960s to defender of traditional high culture in the 1990s. And while … Continue reading Cynthia Ozick, The Din in the Head

Simone Weil, On the Abolition of All Political Parties

On the Abolition of All Political Parties by Simone Weil My rating: 3 of 5 stars If you'll allow me, dear reader, a self-indulgent preamble— Readers of my novella, The Ecstasy of Michaela, will notice a few lines from Simone Weil quoted as the heroine's reading material. This should not be mistaken for deep familiarity with … Continue reading Simone Weil, On the Abolition of All Political Parties