Saturday, May 28, 2011

William, William....

Thanks to Penguin Books and the BlogHer book club, I have been reading my eyeballs off with real pleasure. My most recent review of A Jane Austin Education is up over at BlogHer: 

Not that he would have cared, but if I had met William Deresiewicz, author of A Jane Austen Education, when he was 26, I would have disliked him very much. I’d seen far too many versions of him on several college campuses and knew that if we had met at a party, he would have taken one disdainful look at me and then moved on. The dismissive attitude would have been mutual. I wouldn’t have given him another glance, either.

In his memoir, Deresiewicz describes himself at 26 in graduate school this way:
"I’d pass my days in a cloud of angry sarcasm, making silent speeches, as I stalked down Broadway in my John Lennon coat, against everything conventional, respectable, and pious... I smoked weed, listened to the Clash, and snorted at the business monkeys who’d sold out to the Man."
The arrogant young William not surprisingly struggled with relationships, since his concept of a conversation meant that he would declare his opinions, knowledge, and experiences. The person to whom this smug deluge was directed was expected to simply absorb his superiority like a docile sponge. And if this person was a girlfriend, there would also be the added expectation of sex on demand and without commitments.

As I began to read this book, I had to stifle my desire to reach into the pages and grab the author by the wide lapels of his Lennon coat and shake him silly. But as the paragraphs went by, Deresiewicz’s attitude toward life and love and friendships began to change drastically, as did my impulse to do the author bodily harm......

Continue reading here.

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