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Narcissus Leaves the Pool: Familiar Essaysby Joseph Epstein
Synopses & Reviews
Joseph Epstein's sixth collection of personal pieces winningly and brilliantly rounds off his twenty-three-year tenure as editor of The American Scholar. "The trick with these essays," he recently wrote, "is to take what seems a small or mildly amusing subject and open it up, allow it to exfoliate, so that by the end something arises that might be larger and more intricate than anyone — including the author — had expected." Among the things that arise here are naps, Gershwin, aging, name-dropping, long books, pet peeves, talent vs. genius, Anglophilia, and surgery — the head and the heart.
"One of a handful of living Americans who have mastered the familiar essay, Epstein never fails to entertain as well as soothingly educate." Library Journal
"If Epstein's ultimate ancestor is Montaigne, his more immediate master is Mencken. Like Mencken, he has fashioned a style that successfully combines elegance and even bookishness with street-smart colloquial directness. And there is nothing remote or aloof about him." John Gross, Chicago Tribune
"Epstein's work is well in the Addisonian line of succession that Cyril Connolly saw petering out in Punch and the professional humorists...Epstein is a great deal more sophisticated than they were, and a great deal more readable." Philip Larkin
"Joseph Epstein is an essayist in the brilliant tradition of Charles Lamb. He moves so effortlessly from the amusingly personal to the broadly philosophical that it takes a moment before you realize how far out into the intellectual cosmos you have been taken. He is also mercilessly free of the petty intellectual etiquettes common at this moment in our national letters. It is refreshing to hear so independent a voice." Tom Wolfe, author of A Man in Full
Joseph Epstein demonstrates time and again his talent for taking nearly any subject and polishing it into a gem of sparkling wit and fascination. In Narcissus Leaves the Pool, he displays his signature verve and charm in sixteen agile, entertaining pieces. Among his targets in this collection are name-dropping, talent versus genius, the cult of youthfulness, and the information revolution.
About the Author
JOSEPH EPSTEIN is the author of the best-selling Snobbery and of Friendship, among other books, and was formerly editor of the American Scholar. His work has appeared in The New Yorker, Harpers Magazine, the Atlantic Monthly, and other magazines. He lives in Evanston, Illinois.
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