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All the Sad Young Literary Men

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All the Sad Young Literary Men Cover

ISBN13: 9780670018550
ISBN10: 0670018554
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Review-A-Day

"Gessen has captured perfectly the narcissistic ennui of privileged youth for whom self-flagellation is an art form; or, as Dave Eggers remarks in the acknowledgments to A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, 'The Self-Aggrandizement Disguised as Self-Flagellation as Even Higher Art Form.'" Joyce Carol Oates, The New York Review of Books (read the entire New York Review of Books review)

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

A charming yet scathing portrait of young adulthood at the opening of the twenty-first century, All the Sad Young Literary Men charts the lives of Sam, Mark, and Keith as they overthink their college years, underthink their love lives, and struggle through the encouragement of the women who love and despise them to find a semblance of maturity, responsibility, and even literary fame.

Heartbroken in his university town, Mark tries to focus his attention on his graduate work on the Russian Revolution, only to be lured again and again to the free pornography on the library computers. Sam binds himself to the task of crafting the first great Zionist epic even though he speaks no Hebrew, has never visited Israel, and is not a practicing Jew. Keith, more earnest and easily upset than the other two, is haunted by catastrophes both public and private — and his inability to tell the difference.

At every turn, at each character's misstep, All the Sad Young Literary Men radiates with comedic warmth and biting honesty and signals the arrival of a brave and trenchant new writer.

Review:

"In n+1 founding editor Gessen's first novel, three college graduates grapple with 20th-century history at the dawn of the 21st century while trying — with little success — to forge literary careers and satisfying relationships. Mark is working on his doctoral dissertation on Roman Sidorovich, 'the funny Menshevik,' but after the failure of his marriage, he's distracted by online dating and Internet porn. Sam tries to write the Great Zionist Novel, but his visits to Israel and the occupied territories are mostly to escape a one-sided romance back in Cambridge. And Keith is a liberal writer who has a difficult time separating the personal from the political. Less a novel than a series of loosely connected vignettes, the humor supposedly derives from the arch disconnect between the great historic events these three characters contemplate and the petty failures of their literary and romantic strivings. But it is difficult to differentiate — and thus to care about — the three developmentally arrested protagonists who, very late in the novel, take baby steps toward manhood. There's plenty of irony on tap and more than a few cutting lines, but the callow cast and listless narrative limit the book's potential." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"This interesting and agreeable first novel, by a young writer who already packs a formidable resume, is a considerably better- than-average exercise in slacker fiction, a genre of which I confess to having only limited knowledge: I've read and reviewed (very favorably) Ted Heller's hilarious novel 'Slab Rat' (2000), and I've seen 'Knocked Up.' All of which doesn't exactly lop 40 years off my age.... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review)

Review:

"A fiercely intelligent, darkly funny first novel." Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)

Review:

"[A]s clever and self-consciously important and intermittently brilliant as his magazine....One of the pleasures of Gessen's novel is how well he reproduces the speech patterns of brainy, left-wing Ivy Leaguers..." Slate.com

Review:

"The themes of 'Like Vaclav' aren't quite as sustainable in novel form, but Gessen still manages to tackle serious political subjects while poking fun at how seriously his characters take themselves. Strongly recommended." Library Journal

Review:

"[His] failure to sufficiently individualize the characters has the makings of a fatal flaw but is somewhat offset by Gessen's cutting humor. For more compelling male coming-of-age stories, steer readers to Nick Hornby or Tom Perrotta." Booklist

Review:

"Cruelty and affection and erudition and innocence are so perfectly balanced in these stories, they almost make me wish I were young again." Jonathan Franzen, author of The Corrections and The Discomfort Zone

Review:

"Here is a funny, felt book by a writer supremely attuned to the vagaries of love and history, or at least to the wounding abstractions that often seem like the vagaries of love and history, especially to overwound young men. The distinction, I think, lies at the heart of this powerful, surprising fiction. Whether we like it or not, Keith Gessen has written an engaged and engaging debut." Sam Lipsyte, author of Home Land and Venus Drive

Review:

"Before age 30, Gessen made his mark as a public intellectual and literary critic. But his artistic debut may dwarf those other, considerable contributions. Gessen's fiction teases out subtle insights into travails both political and romantic, and with powerful humor. Heaven will take note." Mary Karr, author of The Liar's Club and Cherry

Review:

"[I]nteresting and agreeable...a considerably better-than-average exercise in slacker fiction....There can be no doubt...that [Gessen] has plenty of talent to work with." Jonathan Yardley, The Washington Post Book World

Review:

"Complications abound, and some of them are the book's fault, but Gessen's style is good-natured and ripe enough to allow a satisfying sweetness to exist in these characters as they journey around the carnival of their own selfishness." Andrew O'Hagan, The New York Times Book Review

Review:

"[Gessen's] achingly comic command of the hopes, vanities, foibles and quandaries of his peers has produced something better than fashionably maneuvered satire....He evokes the world's culture along with our own." Richard Eder, Los Angeles Times

Review:

"Even as a novel of ideas, All the Sad Young Literary Men feels empty — more poseur than purposeful. Gessen has smarts and ambition and talent. But until he gets his head out of his own backside, this literary movement that he claims to be leading will remain curiously inert." Dallas-Ft. Worth Star Telegram

Review:

"It reminds me less of the Fitzgerald collection its name plays off than the movie St. Elmo's Fire....What this book tells about Keith Gessen is that he is out to revive the novel of political commitment, and bring to the bludgeoned Left a bit of lugubrious fun." Dallas Morning News

Review:

"Gessen's writing is accessible, but he sprinkles in so much philosophy, politics, obscure figures from the Russian revolution and Israeli-Palestinian history that having Google at the ready improves the reading experience....[An] invigorating first novel." Cleveland Plain Dealer

Synopsis:

A novel of love, sadness, wasted youth, and literary and intellectual ambition-"a wincingly funny debut" (Vogue)

Keith Gessen is a Brave and trenchant new literary voice. Known as an award-winning translator of Russian and a book reviewer for publications including The New Yorker and The New York Times, Gessen makes his debut with this critically acclaimed novel, a charming yet scathing portrait of young adulthood at the opening of the twenty-first century. The novel charts the lives of Sam, Mark, and Keith as they overthink their college years, underthink their love lives, and struggle to find a semblance of maturity, responsibility, and even literary fame.

About the Author

Keith Gessen was born in Russia and educated at Harvard and Syracuse. He is a founding editor of the literary magazine n+1. This is his first book.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

alsek, June 3, 2008 (view all comments by alsek)
Erudite first novel, both funny and sad. Gessen writes about Sam, Mark, and Keith as they struggle to find meaning and purpose in their post-undergraduate lives.
Highly recommended.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(6 of 10 readers found this comment helpful)

Product Details

ISBN:
9780670018550
Author:
Gessen, Keith
Publisher:
Penguin Books
Subject:
Authors
Subject:
Young men
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Children's 12-Up - Fiction - General
Subject:
General
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Paperback / softback
Publication Date:
April 2008
Binding:
Paperback
Grade Level:
from 12
Language:
English
Illustrations:
3 b/w photos
Pages:
256
Dimensions:
9.50x6.00x.93 in. .93 lbs.
Age Level:
from 18

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

All the Sad Young Literary Men Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$6.95 In Stock
Product details 256 pages Viking Books - English 9780670018550 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "In n+1 founding editor Gessen's first novel, three college graduates grapple with 20th-century history at the dawn of the 21st century while trying — with little success — to forge literary careers and satisfying relationships. Mark is working on his doctoral dissertation on Roman Sidorovich, 'the funny Menshevik,' but after the failure of his marriage, he's distracted by online dating and Internet porn. Sam tries to write the Great Zionist Novel, but his visits to Israel and the occupied territories are mostly to escape a one-sided romance back in Cambridge. And Keith is a liberal writer who has a difficult time separating the personal from the political. Less a novel than a series of loosely connected vignettes, the humor supposedly derives from the arch disconnect between the great historic events these three characters contemplate and the petty failures of their literary and romantic strivings. But it is difficult to differentiate — and thus to care about — the three developmentally arrested protagonists who, very late in the novel, take baby steps toward manhood. There's plenty of irony on tap and more than a few cutting lines, but the callow cast and listless narrative limit the book's potential." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review A Day" by , "Gessen has captured perfectly the narcissistic ennui of privileged youth for whom self-flagellation is an art form; or, as Dave Eggers remarks in the acknowledgments to A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, 'The Self-Aggrandizement Disguised as Self-Flagellation as Even Higher Art Form.'" (read the entire New York Review of Books review)
"Review" by , "A fiercely intelligent, darkly funny first novel."
"Review" by , "[A]s clever and self-consciously important and intermittently brilliant as his magazine....One of the pleasures of Gessen's novel is how well he reproduces the speech patterns of brainy, left-wing Ivy Leaguers..."
"Review" by , "The themes of 'Like Vaclav' aren't quite as sustainable in novel form, but Gessen still manages to tackle serious political subjects while poking fun at how seriously his characters take themselves. Strongly recommended."
"Review" by , "[His] failure to sufficiently individualize the characters has the makings of a fatal flaw but is somewhat offset by Gessen's cutting humor. For more compelling male coming-of-age stories, steer readers to Nick Hornby or Tom Perrotta."
"Review" by , "Cruelty and affection and erudition and innocence are so perfectly balanced in these stories, they almost make me wish I were young again."
"Review" by , "Here is a funny, felt book by a writer supremely attuned to the vagaries of love and history, or at least to the wounding abstractions that often seem like the vagaries of love and history, especially to overwound young men. The distinction, I think, lies at the heart of this powerful, surprising fiction. Whether we like it or not, Keith Gessen has written an engaged and engaging debut."
"Review" by , "Before age 30, Gessen made his mark as a public intellectual and literary critic. But his artistic debut may dwarf those other, considerable contributions. Gessen's fiction teases out subtle insights into travails both political and romantic, and with powerful humor. Heaven will take note."
"Review" by , "[I]nteresting and agreeable...a considerably better-than-average exercise in slacker fiction....There can be no doubt...that [Gessen] has plenty of talent to work with."
"Review" by , "Complications abound, and some of them are the book's fault, but Gessen's style is good-natured and ripe enough to allow a satisfying sweetness to exist in these characters as they journey around the carnival of their own selfishness."
"Review" by , "[Gessen's] achingly comic command of the hopes, vanities, foibles and quandaries of his peers has produced something better than fashionably maneuvered satire....He evokes the world's culture along with our own."
"Review" by , "Even as a novel of ideas, All the Sad Young Literary Men feels empty — more poseur than purposeful. Gessen has smarts and ambition and talent. But until he gets his head out of his own backside, this literary movement that he claims to be leading will remain curiously inert."
"Review" by , "It reminds me less of the Fitzgerald collection its name plays off than the movie St. Elmo's Fire....What this book tells about Keith Gessen is that he is out to revive the novel of political commitment, and bring to the bludgeoned Left a bit of lugubrious fun."
"Review" by , "Gessen's writing is accessible, but he sprinkles in so much philosophy, politics, obscure figures from the Russian revolution and Israeli-Palestinian history that having Google at the ready improves the reading experience....[An] invigorating first novel."
"Synopsis" by ,
A novel of love, sadness, wasted youth, and literary and intellectual ambition-"a wincingly funny debut" (Vogue)

Keith Gessen is a Brave and trenchant new literary voice. Known as an award-winning translator of Russian and a book reviewer for publications including The New Yorker and The New York Times, Gessen makes his debut with this critically acclaimed novel, a charming yet scathing portrait of young adulthood at the opening of the twenty-first century. The novel charts the lives of Sam, Mark, and Keith as they overthink their college years, underthink their love lives, and struggle to find a semblance of maturity, responsibility, and even literary fame.

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