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Humiliation (BIG IDEAS//small books) Paperback – August 2, 2011
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“This literary ‘topping from the bottom' is the funniest, smartest, most heartbreaking yet powerful book I've read in a long time.” ―John Waters
“Humiliation runs like a rash over the body of all of Wayne Koestenbaum's work; here, he directly addresses the feeling, and the result is one of my favorite recent books: psychologically astute, verbally pyrotechnic, bottomlessly provocative, surprisingly funny, and immensely sad. An extraordinary meditation on nothing less than--I don't know how else to say it--the human condition.” ―David Shields, author of Reality Hunger
About the Author
WAYNE KOESTENBAUM has published five books of poetry, one novel, and six books of nonfiction. A graduate of Harvard and Princeton, he is a distinguished professor of English at the CUNY Graduate Center and also a visiting professor in the painting department of the Yale School of Art.
More About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
It is, thus, a sort of collection of very short essays or musings, and it isn't clear how one would characterize it.
would i recommend it to others? i don't know. it is sometimes hard to read, sometimes endearing, sometimes capturing, sometimes dull, sometimes pompous, sometimes erotic, sometimes... sometimes a little of everything
and Mina Loy's [[ASIN:0876858531 Insel]. The character is subject to, indeed, humiliation after humiliation: feelings of shame, pain, etc are explored to virtually no end. Ultimately, though, Kostenbaum is not a doom sayer--he uses the most uncanny and embarrassing situations to reveal that we most embarassment comes from within, not without. A good novel.
Nice idea. The books entitled Violence and Time fit well into this framework. Yes, violence and time are both pretty big ideas. Who decided that humiliation was a Big Idea? Hmm. Maybe an editor who said something like, "Wayne, write about whatever you like." Wayne Koestenbaum likes humiliation, and so it's a Big Idea.
Humiliation (the book) may be provocative, but it is nothing more than that. Koestenbaum wrote the very good "The Queen's Throat," but Humiliation reads like the sleepy self-indulgent musings of a horny voyeur with no action at 3:00 a.m. in the morning. There's some clever turns of phrase, but it's all so much ado about nothing much at all, indeed one very small idea that, at nearly 200 pages, is much too long indeed.
This review, written by a non-writer with a bad toothache, is about as intellectual and well composed as the book. This book deserves no more than that, for frankly, this kind of sloppy, snarky writing is tired. It's also tiring.
Frightening the horses has been done to death. I'm not shocked by this book, for I've read Genet, Dennis Cooper, and DeSade. Our cultural propensity for enjoying both our own and other people's public humiliation and redemption from it is an interesting topic (though is it Big?) It would have been far more interesting, however, and truly provocative, if Koestenbaum actually answered some of the questions he asked, such as why he enjoys reading the desperate pleas for sexual humiliation on Craigslist. But no, he merely observes from a distance, as if languidly exposing himself and others for their transgressions means something. It does not.Read more ›
Humiliation is a detailed treatise which attempts to define humiliation in its many aspects. Koestenbaum explores art, current events, literature, film, history, and his personal experiences to give us hundreds of small anecdotes and meditations on mortification and its effect upon people.
Koestenbaum details what he calls the "Jim Crow gaze". The gaze appears on the face of racial bigots, especially in the eyes of people living in a "state of apartheid". It is cold, seems dead, and does not recognize the victim as human. Instead it sees a "scab", a spot of absence." Such people can not see their victim as human without surrendering the negative feelings and often the hatred and fear necessary to maintain their prejudice.
"Humiliation" even explores self humiliation. It is unclear whether it is natural to feel humiliated when no one else is aware of our mistake, or gaff. Maybe we have such feelings because our society has carefully trained us concerning its standards of "decency". What is clear is that sometimes we feel the pain, the emotional embarrassment, even in solitude.
If I ever wanted to be a celebrity, this book discourages me. I would not trade places with Michael Jackson, Alec Baldwin, or other famous people whose experiences are included in the text. One section, called "Disgusting Allegations" details situations I certainly want to avoid.
Humiliation is not the book of comedy sketches I thought it was when I ordered it. Actually it is better. This text opens part of our soul to us. I recommend this book.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I read it across 4 continents and had the odd experience of having a number of people undergo significant humiliation whilst reading. Read morePublished 21 months ago by cb5177
One thing about this book... and that was it most certainly was a small book...that being in page count and dimensions. Read morePublished on April 11, 2013 by RYCJ
I am in the midst of reading and 'enjoying' Wayne Koestenbaum's extraordinary little gem and treatise simply entitled HUMILIATION---quite a feat--to expound for 192 pages... Read morePublished on January 11, 2013 by Frankie Mazza
I bought this book expecting something some fun and witty. I was completely disappointed in this, and succombed to defeat. Read morePublished on November 23, 2011 by Shawna
Wayne Koestenbaum's Humiliation is at once lyrical and methodical, an anxious stream of consciousness that has been organized into lists within chapters he deems "fugues". Read morePublished on October 27, 2011 by Ste
Wayne Koestenbaum's, "Humiliation" is a unique book. At first I did not know what to expect from it, however the more I read and finished it, the various aspects of humiliation... Read morePublished on October 9, 2011 by Vivek Tejuja
"Humiliation" sounded like an interesting topic. I was hoping for something a bit more psychological, though. Read morePublished on September 16, 2011 by Derrick Dodson
Big powerful punch in a small package. Couldn't put this book down.. I actually stopped everything to read it completely.Published on August 10, 2011 by Happy In Life