The half-life of an american essayist

Both modes were ways in which a certain generation of people, living in a certain place, tried their hand at figuring out America. In that world, the bon mot stood in place of long, reasoned analysis. The most recent is frombut that one is almost an outlier. Or, if not America, then the parts of American culture that interested the masthead.

In it, there was something approaching joy. That is, after all, what most of these essays are about, or seek to transcend. It was the tribe of snark. Individual sentences, breathtaking in their brashness, form the foundation on which he builds his thought: The earliest in the collection dates toand most are from or before.

Greif is, after all, just a college professor thinking and typing in a well-furnished room. The young, overeducated, and underpaid New York media scene of the mid-aughts seemed to vacillate between two distant but connected poles.

Besides existing entirely online, the bloggy voice was witty, sarcastic, and quasi-nihilist, and it existed entirely in moment-to-moment ephemera. One end was predicated upon the nascent blogging scene and best represented by Gawker.

It became for me the lodestone to direct my wandering mind, to sate my literary curiosity while at war.

John Burroughs

And while his work absorbs all the strengths of the tradition in which it moves—the dizzying belief in the power of human thought, the confidence that one can think up a new world—it also carries along all the weaknesses. What was happening back home? And instead of sticking a snarky dagger in the back of whatever public figure was making a fool of himself at the moment, this other school of discourse would take an event or concept and, in languid and thoughtful prose, slowly unwind it to reveal some hidden meaning.

And anyone who has been stationed abroad with the military understands that the conditions—living intimately with a small group of people in a context created and administered by a distant bureaucracy—fosters the cultivation of a subculture all its own, recognizable only as an approximation or caricature of the larger American culture left behind.

That gives his prose the chance to be something radically accessible—like one of the all-ages punk shows he gushes about.

And so I was made a bit melancholy while reading this book, nostalgic for a moment in letters that felt more liberated and liberating, where a joyful and serious left-of-center public thinker could ruminate on any number of subjects without hunkering down into the programmatic.

Return of the American Essayist

But the strengths are too, and ten years on they seem even more compelling. The weaknesses are there. Greif is educated, but he wears it lightly. As pragmatic as it is experimental. When not deployed to Iraq with the Army, I was stationed in a series of small German towns and villages.

This was the Gawker of the first few incarnations; Gawker was a beast that changed shape and meaning many times throughout its lifespan. I could feel this weird entropic relationship with the changes in American culture playing out when I talked to my friends back home.Buy The Half-Life of an American Essayist at The half-life of an American essayist -- Typewriter days -- The pages of sin -- An African American in Regency England -- Hello, beautiful!

-- My Holocaust problem -- The inexhaustible Paul Valéry -- Club work: W.

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H. Auden, Jacques Barzun, Lionel Trilling -- No failure like success: the life of Raymond Chandler -- Here's looking at you -- Boxers and writers -- Who speaks for the lazy?.

The half life of an american essayist The death and life of a great American bookstore It should begin In The half life of an american essayist the May This essay is derived from a keynote at Xtech.

The twelve essays in The Half-Life-the title is from Goethe's Experience is only half of experience-go deeper than the standard book piece; they hew to the line first drawn by Montaigne and later extended by Dr. Johnson, Hazlitt, Woolf and Orwell.4/5.

The Half Life Of An American Essayist free ebook Saturn Vue Owners Manual. This is Saturn Vue Owners Manual the best ebook that you can get right now online. His new book, The Half-Life of an American Essayist, continues to demonstrate that the literary essay in the right hands can itself be a subset of literature.

Whether he's examining the evolution of the typewriter, the nature of sin, the cultural implications of physiognomy, the works of Paul Valery and Raymond Chandler, or his own ineffable laziness, Krystal's buoyant prose always speaks to the common reader.5/5(3).

The half-life of an american essayist
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