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In a Cardboard Belt!: Essays Personal, Literary, and Savage Paperback – September 23, 2008
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Top Customer Reviews
Maybe because I've read him so closely, wherever his essays and stories appear, I felt at times like I had read essays here before. Maybe they were published elsewhere? If so, I didn't find that written into the book. Or, more likely, I just know his stories, proclivities and his style so well.
In a time when few read the great writers of yore, you can learn so much from any of Joseph Epstein's essay books. How much he loves Henry James and why, for example. Anyway, the "kid's turning 70" and all his readers care.
Now, one thing I always marvel over his Epstein's genuine good humor. He's a kinda mild guy. Anyone more prone to rage would not be so sanguine about The American Scholar which he edited for almost 23 years and then was fired. Man, one huge mistake imo. Sorry, Joseph E., you would never write IMO but then again, you probably do not come to Amazon to check your readers' comments. All I can say is that you are so smart and not just a little famous either. You matter to readers everywhere, so I believe. (Another line that would have the writer of these essays cringing.)
Epstein is also way too fond of the throwaway remark that plunges the stiletto into the ribcage. For instance:
"I do not know of any genuine contribution that Mortimer Adler made to serious philosophy.."
"I don't believe Susan Sontag's celebrity finally had much to do with the power or cogency of her ideas."
"Wisdom, in a critic, is never excess baggage. Edmund Wilson, it begins to be clear, traveled light", having previously characterized Wilson as "a bald, pudgy little man with a drinking problem, a nearly perpetual erection, and a mean streak".
There are far too many of these - often completely gratuitous - asides, whose characteristic feature, aside from the nastiness, appears to be that they are invariably directed at people who have been more successful than Epstein.
And for all that he purports to take down others for the 'pompous' nature of their writing, his own tone in the essays "The Perpetual Adolescent" and "The Culture of Celebrity" pretty much defines old fogeydom.Read more ›
Epstein is extremely modest about his distinguished background, so don't pass up this book just because of the cover artwork. I can't explain the publisher's choice, but the book reads better with the dustjacket removed.
Helen Gallagher, author Release Your Writing: Book Publishing, Your Way
In the closing essay of the work Epstein speaks of his years as editor of the American Scholar',and the joy he had in writing ninety- three articles for this publication. He too has an essay in which he analyzes in a telling way the reasons why academic life is filled with disappointments. He did not love his own career as teacher and sees it pretty much as a waste. What he loves to be and what he defines his love in terms of is writing.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This collection of essays is incredibly solid. There were a small handful of mediocre essays, but no dogs. Most of the essays are incredibly entertaining, erudite, and witty. Read morePublished on May 14, 2014 by Greg Linster
Epstein is a perennial winner. He would very much like to be a bad boy of letters but a prissy grace stops him from being acerbic rather than cautionary. Read morePublished on February 20, 2014 by Really a Reader
Joe Epstein is an outstanding exponent of the essay- for his readers they entertain and inform about subjects that range across the spectrum of subjects.Published on April 3, 2013 by Edward B. Hauck
Twenty years ago I was an avid reader of Joseph Epstein's magazine pieces; his essays contra political correctness were music to my ears. Read morePublished on August 30, 2009 by Reader