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Harpooning Donald Trump: A Novelist's Essays Paperback – March 8, 2017
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About the Author
Tom LeClair grew up in Plymouth, Vermont, the hometown of Calvin Coolidge. He received a B.A. from Boston College, an M.A. from the University of Vermont, and a Ph.D. in English from Duke University in 1972. He taught American Literature at the University of Cincinnati from 1970 to 2008, when he retired as Professor of English and Nathaniel Ropes Chair. He moved to Brooklyn in 2008 and held the title “Professor Ping Pong” at SPiN, NYC, from 2009 until his retirement in 2015. Tom LeClair began writing as a literary critic, publishing In the Loop and The Art of Excess in the late 1980’s before turning to fiction with Passing Off (1996), the first of his “Passing” trilogy. Since 1972, he has published hundreds of essays, reviews, stories, and interviews in nationally circulated periodicals. Some of those works were collected in What to Read (and Not). He has published three other novels in addition to the “Passing” sequence. Awarded a Fulbright Professorship at the University of Athens, Greece, in 1981-82, LeClair has lived in Greece about a quarter of the time since then. He was a fiction judge for the National Book Awards in 2005 and has written an essay about the NBA fiction finalists each year since 2008.
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Throughout the essays, LeClair calls for an author to write a Trumpciad, melding the acidic satire of Pope’s <Dunciad> to the encyclopedic reach of a Gaddis or Pynchon. I would be first in line to read such a work, but the problem with that is enshrined in the title of one of LeClair’s essays, “Donald Trump Won’t Read This.” More importantly, the gulls who voted for him wouldn’t read it either, and it is they—and their undereducated counterparts across the world—who need to be enlightened. (That essay, by the way, is a brilliant analysis of Trump’s “pre-literate” style and sensibility.)
Nonetheless, this is an informed, cleverly written collection by one of the best critics of modern American literature, and a bracing example of literary criticism as political activism.