What's a novelist supposed to do with contemporary culture? And what's contemporary culture supposed to do with novelists? In The Ecstasy of Influence, Jonathan Lethem, tangling with what he calls the "white elephant" role of the writer as public intellectual, arrives at an astonishing range of answers.
A constellation of previously published pieces and new essays as provocative and idiosyncratic as any he's written, this volume sheds light on an array of topics from sex in cinema to drugs, graffiti, Bob Dylan, cyberculture, 9/11, book touring, and Marlon Brando, as well as on a shelf's worth of his literary models and contemporaries: Norman Mailer, Paula Fox, Bret Easton Ellis, James Wood, and others. And, writing about Brooklyn, his father, and his sojourn through two decades of writing, Lethem sheds an equally strong light on himself.
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"Starred Review. In a tsunami of literary and cinematic references, familiar and obscure, Lethem easily rises to the surface as a brilliant, incisive essayist who loves to sing the body eclectic." - Publishers Weekly
"Absorbing reading for the smart set." - Library Journal
"Starred Review. Inevitably a mixed bag, but with high ambitions and a strong sense of purpose." - Kirkus Reviews
"Peppery nonfiction... thoughtful and rambunctious... dynamically juxtaposed and connected... [a] fresh, erudite, zestful, funny frolic in the great fields of creativity." - Booklist
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Jonathan Lethem was born February 19, 1964 in Brooklyn, NY. He attended the alternative High School of Music & Art in New York where he produced a literary magazine and wrote a short novel titled Heroes. Lethem went to Bennington College in Vermont before dropping out in his sophomore year to move to California and pursue writing.
Lethem met with literary success early. His first novel, Gun, With Occasional Music, a science fiction/hard-boiled detective story, was a finalist for the 1994 Nebula Award. The commercial success that Lethem saw for Gun, With Occasional Music, combined with the optioning of the novel's film rights, allowed the author to stop working at bookstores and devote himself full-time to writing.
Each of Lethem's subsequent three novels -- Amnesia Moon, As She Climbed ...
Blood at the Root
"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
- PW Starred Review
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