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Where the Stress Falls: Essays (Recent Picador Highlights)

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9780312421311: Where the Stress Falls: Essays (Recent Picador Highlights)
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Thirty-five years after her first collection, the now classic "Against Interpretation," America's most important essayist has chosen more than forty longer and shorter pieces from the last twenty years. Divided into three sections, the first "Reading" includes ardent pieces on writers from her own private canon - Machado de Assis, Barthes, W. G. Sebald, Borges, Tsvetaeva, and Elizabeth Hardwick. In the second, "Seeing" she shares her passions for film, dance, photography, painting, opera, and theater. And in the final section, "There and Here" Sontag explores her own commitments to the work (and activism) of conscience and to the vocation of the writer.

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Review:

Susan Sontag produces a riveting new volume of essays that reflects her polygamous interests in Where the Stress Falls. The American writer, famous for her fiction, is equally prolific in her essay writing, including such titles as Against Interpretation, Styles of Radical Will and Illness as Metaphor. These latest essays range from her take on the cultural philosopher Roland Barthes, accounts of working in Sarajevo, to the traditions of Western Gardens to the history of travel writing. As she writes of her youthful understanding of her craft, "my idea of a writer was someone who was interested in "everything"'. Perhaps most intriguingly, she revisits her 1966 book, (then her second publication), Against Interpretation and provides an autobiographical context for her essays on Simone Weil, Albert Camus, Pavese and Michel Leiris. In these early works she saw herself as a "pugnacious aesthete and a barely closeted moralist". Sontag fought to pave the way for making photograph and cinema subjects worthy of serious cultural criticism.

Although several of these essays have been written in the last couple of years, many are reprinted from magazine articles and the book forms a thought-provoking collection rather than a selection of new writing. Given Sontag's outspoken views on the recent events in America and Afghanistan, it is rather frustrating that there isn't more of her political writing in this volume and it is hard to understand why certain "interludes" were chosen. But as always with Sontag, there is much for even the faint-hearted to savour and ponder. --Julie Wheelwright

Review:

"What ultimately matters about Sontag is what she has defended: the life of the mind, and the necessity for reading and writing as 'a way of being fully human.' She has been a great explainer, but her explanations are not reductive....She regroups the familiar and makes the eye fresh....She stands for what is articulate, independent, exploratory: for self as work in progress." --Hilary Mantel, Los Angeles Times Book Review

"[The essays] invariably also leave one with the urgent desire to read the book or see the painting, play, dance she describes. Her passion evokes that urgency...The outstanding essays are 'Waiting for Godot in Sarajevo' and 'Writing Itself: On Roland Barthes, ' both of which are definitive and awe-inspiring." --Bookforum

"Three essays--the longest in the book--are of unquestioned lasting importance. They are 'Writing Itself: On Roland Barthes, ' 'Waiting for Godot in Sarajevo' and the title essay ['Where the Stress Falls' which] is a stunning tour de force." --Houston Chronicle

"Where the Stress Falls raises the bar of criticism to the highest level....Her energy infuses every word in the collection." --The Seattle Times

"Her criticism is art in its own right, so gorgeously formed and creative, so vital and searching, deeply rooted in passionately intelligent reading and unstinting curiosity ....A substantial and wonderfully musical collection that makes matters literary and artistic urgent and thrilling." --Booklist

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9780374289171: Where the Stress Falls

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ISBN 10: 0374289174 ISBN 13: 9780374289171
Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux, 2001
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9780141190211: Where the Stress Falls (Penguin Modern Classics)

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9780099289418: Where The Stress Falls

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9780224029131: Where the Stress Falls: Essays

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