Synopses & Reviews
A one-man think tank, Paul Goodman wrote more than 30 books, most of them before his decade of fame as a social critic in the 1960s. Goodman in those earlier days thought of himself mostly as an old-fashioned man of letters, and to do justice to his wide-ranging interests and growing activism, this compendium provides excerpts that span his entire career, from the bestselling Growing Up Absurd to landmark books on anarchism, community planning, education, poetics, and psychotherapy. Goodman's fiction and poetry are represented by The Empire City, a comic novel; prize-winning short stories; and poems that once led America's most respected poetry reviewer, Hayden Carruth, to exclaim, "Not one dull page. Its almost unbelievable."
"'Compiled for those not yet born' when editor and friend Taylor Stoehr met the astonishingly prolific social critic Paul Goodman in 1950, this selection of essays, excerpts, short fiction, and poetry presents the work of the self-confessed 'Man of Letters' to a new generation. Seldom afraid to plead ignorant on specialist topics, Goodman instead applies his own forte-human beings-to wholly illuminating social critiques incorporating philosophy, theology, psychoanalysis (he co-founded Gestalt Therapy), and American popular culture. At the core of many a discourse is speech and language. With terrifyingly accurate sketches of 'Orwellian' politics and Goffman-esque analyses of media-influenced human communication, Goodman sweeps through notions of apathy, alienation, and power while exuding his own sense of enterprise and belief in infamous zeitgeist pieces. A renaissance thinker rather than an active proponent for social change, his prophetic writing garnered attention, especially Growing Up Absurd (1960) which hugely, if unintentionally, inspired the youth movements of the following decade. This celebratory compendium is as pertinent today as when Goodman first furiously put pen to paper, and while there may be few concrete answers, Goodman's way of seeing is riveting and decidedly infectious.
Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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"Goodman, like all real novelists, is, at bottom, a moralist. What really interests him are the various ways in which human beings living in a modern metropolis gain, keep, or lose their integrity and sense of selfhood." W. H. Auden, poet"As this decade in America careens, recoils, and shrieks along, Paul Goodman appears increasingly as our most exemplary intellectual, that is, the most deeply representative and the most worthy one." Washington Post"Any page by Paul Goodman will give you not only originality and brilliance but wisdom, that is, something to think about. He is our peculiar, urban, twentieth-century Thoreau, the quintessential American mind of our time." Hayden Carruth, poet and essayist"It was that voice of his that seduced methat direct, cranky, egotistical, generous American voice." Susan Sontag, novelist and public intellectual"No one writing now in America makes better sense of literary subjects." The Nation