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Character Studies: Encounters with the Curiously Obsessedby Mark Singer
"Singer's collection of profiles constitutes a voyage worth taking. Readers who embark will savor many of the same pleasures served up by the New Yorker itself: intelligent and humorous delivery, a willingness to linger over detail, detours to some off-the-map destinations, and just plain good writing." Marjorie Kehe, the Christian Science Monitor (read the entire Christian Science Monitor review)
Synopses & Reviews
"For thirty years, Singers been MVP at The New Yorker . . . searching the country for superslices of Americana,” praised Entertainment Weekly upon the publication of Singers previous book, Somewhere in America. His newest collection, Character Studies, is filled with profiles of Americans that Singer thinks we ought to meet. Whether its about the sleight-of-hand master Ricky Jay, the ardent bibliophile Michael Zinman, or better-known personalities such as the hype artist Donald Trump or the meticulous filmmaker Martin Scorsese, Singers elegant, incisive journalism uncovers the passions that drive the ordinary, the quirky, and the truly, fanatically fixated.
Tom Brokaw raves, "Mark Singer's essays are an insightful, hilarious, and instructive trip through the back roads and main streets of American culture," and this is true whether hes interviewing a devoted fan of the cowboy movie star Tom Mix or the self-selected intelligentsia of El Paso, Texas, who are determined to recover the skull of Pancho Villa. Singers keen ear and sharp eye are sure to appeal to anyone interested in oddballs, America, or the conviction that character is destiny.
"Many, if not all, of the profiles in Singer's latest work (after Somewhere in America) are already lodged firmly in the memories of New Yorker readers, and not just because so many of his subjects — Donald Trump, Ricky Jay, Martin Scorsese — are so remarkable. In fact, it's often in the stories about lesser-known personalities, from a Japanese-American farming family that supplies California's hottest restaurants with their vegetables, to a convention of Tom Mix fans in Las Vegas, that Singer's talents, including his ability to seem at once sympathetic to and skeptical of his subjects, are most visible. While a remembrance of his colleague Joseph Mitchell, who famously spent his last three decades at the magazine without completing a new article, highlights Singer's more personal, introspective side, in most of these stories he's a semidetached observer: you never forget he's there, but your attention is never diverted from the main attraction. In an introduction, Singer describes his reporting as 'sublimated voyeurism' and 'cultural anthropology.' The dual descriptions perfectly encapsulate his entertaining yet informative journalism, and the work itself places him at the head of the New Yorker's current team of staff writers. Agent, Jin Auh. (July 12)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
In these characteristically incisive essays, Mark Singer profiles eccentrics, monomaniacs, and other remarkable people he thinks we ought to meet. He takes us into the worlds of the sleight-of-hand master Ricky Jay, the ardent bibliophile Michael Zinman, and better-known personalities such as the entrepreneur Donald Trump and the meticulous filmmaker Martin Scorsese. He interviews a devoted fan of the cowboy movie star Tom Mix and a group of Texans who are determined to recover the skull of Pancho Villa from Yale's Skull and Bones society, among others. A riveting tour of obsession, Character Studies reveals the passions that drive the ordinary, the quirky, and the truly, fanatically fixated.
About the Author
Mark Singer has been a staff writer for The New Yorker since 1974. He is the author of Funny Money, Mr. Personality, Citizen K, and Somewhere in America. He lives in New York City.
Table of Contents
CONTENTS Introduction 1 Secrets of the Magus 5 Trump Solo 48 Joe Mitchells Secret 81 La Cabeza de Villa 97 The Chinos Artful Harvest 114 Keepers of the Flame 154 Mom Overboard! 191 The Book Eater 206 The Man Who Forgets Nothing 227
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