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My pan—I mean fair but tough review—of Alain de Botton’s series of How To books from The School of Life: http://lareviewofbooks.org/article.php?id=1657&fulltext=1#comments

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I. Critical Distances

An intimate affair, America’s coming of age happened in 1915.  There was no party or fanfare, just Van Wyck Brooks’s essay, “America’s Coming of Age,” the first consequential look at the previous century of American literature and therefore the first significant work of Americanist criticism.  Curiously, the [...]

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Is This Any Fun?

On October 1, 2011 By

My tell-all account of studying under the fantastic and woefully underappreciated Richard Poirier is in the October issue of The Believer (teaser only at the link—go buy the issue!)To give a flavor of the piece, their always great “Discussed” list:

Grad-School Lingua Franca, Fiery Jeremiads,T. S. Eliot’s Romantic Troubles, Pernicious [...]

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In his book  Humiliation Wayne Koestenbaum “aims to pile up humiliations,” his own and others’, public and private, sexual, racial, anti-Semitic, class-based, professional, scatological, emotional and physical. In less than 200 pages there is no aspect of humiliation left untouched, from the Biblical (“[Mary] was a Jewish mother”) [...]

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