Tuesday, July 08, 2008

In a Cardboard Belt! (book review)

From The Movie Snob

In a Cardboard Belt! Essays Personal, Literary, and Savage, by Joseph Epstein (Houghton Mifflin 2007). If you’ve been paying attention, you can tell that I like Joseph Epstein. A former professor at Northwestern University, he frequently contributes essays and short stories to Commentary and other magazines. He is also frighteningly well-read, and in his essays he drops names like nobody’s business. I enjoy his writing a lot, and I probably would not dissent from William F. Buckley, Jr.’s opinion that Epstein is the wittiest writer alive. (I got that last bit from wikipedia, so you may take it with a grain of salt.) This essay collection includes a piece about his father, who died at 91 when Epstein was 62, and essays about some writers he admires (Proust, Keats), and some of his contemporaries he doesn’t (Mortimer Adler, Harold Bloom). And he writes about the culture more broadly, as in his essays entitled “The Perpetual Adolescent,” “The Culture of Celebrity,” and “Why Are Academics So Unhappy?” He may turn out not to be your cup of tea, but you really should give him a try. Some of his books are available in paperback, so go find one.


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