"Less a collection than a collage of what makes Lethem tick." ( Monocle)
"It is a curated selection of essays which thematically add up to more than the sum of its parts. The pleasure for readers is twofold: on one hand, there is the intrinsic interest in the subjects... On the other, there's the fact that this is Lethem telling us these things, and how it gives an insight into his own creative practice." (Stuart Kelly Guardian)
"It's an exemplary piece, a high-wire juggling act where all the balls are kept spinning perfectly." ( Irish Independent:)
"The arguments are intense, the writing heavy with references and influence and there are some incisive takes on the modern world." (Joy Lo Dico Independent on Sunday)
"Thoughtful and rambunctious ... a jazzy, patchwork memoir ... [a] fresh, erudite, zestful, funny frolic in the great fields of creativity." ( Booklist (advance US review))
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. Then there are investigations of a shelf's worth of his literary models and contemporaries: Norman Mailer, Philip K. Dick, Bret Easton Ellis, James Wood, and others. And, writing about Brooklyn, his father, and his sojourn through two decades of writing, one of the greats of contemporary American literature sheds an equally strong light on himself.
Funny and unfettered, The Ecstasy of Influence simmers with direct challenges to conventional wisdom and deep insights into the kaleidoscopic nature of artistic vision, the primacy of the writer in the cultural marketplace, and the way the author's own experiences have fuelled his creative passions.
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