Monday, June 23, 2008

Narcissus Leaves the Pool (book review)

Book review from The Movie Snob

Narcissus Leaves the Pool, by Joseph Epstein (Mariner 1999). I really enjoy the work of essayist and story-story writer Joseph Epstein. I see his stuff mostly in Commentary and The Weekly Standard magazines, but he also publishes elsewhere, and this book is a collection of previously published essays. I can imagine that his writing would not appeal to everyone -- his style is more ornate than most popular writers, and he loves to drop names and show off how well-read he is. Except that I don't think it's really showing off; he's just exceptionally well-read and has a gift for working references into his own observations. Opening the book to a random page, for instance, I see references to Noel Coward, Evelyn Waugh, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Sir Laurence Olivier. His subjects include aging (I think he was around 60 when he wrote that essay), name-dropping, sports, the pleasures of reading, and Anglophilia, American style. The last piece is a beautiful tribute to his dear friend and mentor Edward Shils. This book is not a bad place to start if you'd like to give Epstein a try.


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