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Showing posts from February, 2009

Sontag, a Discovery

Reborn: Journals & Notebooks 1947-1963

Susan Sontag, essayist, novelist, consummate critic of art and aesthetics, died of lung cancer in 2004. The public would have to wait another four years to read the creed she wrote at the age of fourteen stating her atheism, her opinions on government, the relation of action to happiness, and that “the only difference between humans is intelligence.”

Edited by Sontag’s son David Rieff, a capable writer himself, Reborn is a collection and contraction of Sontag’s personal writings, the first of a trilogy to be published. The volume spans the time from Sontag’s fourteenth year through her early undergraduate experiences at Berkley as a sixteen-year-old, becoming a young writer and academic in New York City, her marriage, migrating to Oxford for a fellowship and abandoning it for Paris.

Neither a work of fiction, nor a book of essays, Reborn reveals the relentless quest for knowledge and experience that Sontag embarked on at a tender age. She writes…

To Peregrine With Love

One of my favorite things is finding knickknacks tucked into books. This is one reason why accumulating used books are such a pleasure: one may discover photos of chubby faced children and mothers with bad haircuts and uneven tans, or American Airline ticket stubs, or a receipt from a bookshop in Berlin, or a post-it, or article cut out of the paper. One becomes aware of the inter-connectedness of all people, but of readers in particular. One remembers that reading is a solitary but not isolated encounter – though being singular in discovering or experiencing them, one is linked to those who have read, those who are reading (I felt kinship thinking of members of the New Yorker staff who read 2666 in the month of January, knowing I had so recently participated in that book), and those who have yet to read a particular work.

Tucked into a copy of Rainer Maria Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet I found a letter. In the spirit of my coworker, Jon, who reprinted a letter he recently came acros…