- Paperback: 288 pages
- Publisher: Vintage (May 2, 2000)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0375701389
- ISBN-13: 978-0375701382
- Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8.3 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 8 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #995,157 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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My Pilgrim's Progress: Media Studies, 1950-1998 Paperback – May 2, 2000
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"I don't just like Ike," declares George W.S. Trow, "I love him. I think he's the guy of guys, I think he's uniquely American, and I'm sorry we're not going to have him anymore." That admiration permeates the pages of My Pilgrim's Progress, a stream-of-consciousness consideration of "how 1950 got to be 1998." As an analysis of how American culture became media culture, My Pilgrim's Progress is brilliant and insightful, particularly the sections on modern newspaper journalism and what Trow calls "the aesthetic of Dwight David Eisenhower" (in which he segues from the novels of John O'Hara to an appearance by Joan Rivers on QVC). But readers will either be seduced or driven mad by Trow's rambling, I-know-what-I'm-talking-about-just-trust-me prose style, in many cases literally transcribed from tapes of his immediate reactions to old newspaper headlines. Although you can't say you weren't warned: Trow advises at one point, "I just want to discuss the attractive inevitability of visceral reactions, which, of course, is exactly our political process, especially our presidential process, and I'm going to do it from a personal point of view." --Ron Hogan --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
From Publishers Weekly
Within the Context of No Context, Trow's searing 1980 study of modern media, is a classic of its genre. Taking the claim of the earlier book?that contemporary media, particularly TV, has created an environment in which fictional and cultural experiences are stripped of their real-life referents and instead refer only to one another?Trow examines the Eisenhower years, a period defined by heroic political figures (Ike, Churchill and Adlai Stevenson), commanding cultural institutions (primarily New York's daily newspapers but also movies, books, and television shows) and, personally, by his own intellectual coming of age. Contrasting the American mediascape at mid-century with the quick-cut, high-irony milieu of the late 1990s, Trow argues that the self-referential, overdetermined contemporary media create readers?and more often viewers?defined by severe political and intellectual limits. As always, what distinguishes Trow is not his argument (which sounds many of the same notes as other cultural critics) but his uncommon method. While another writer might mount a dour polemic, Trow is gleefully idiosyncratic. Delving nimbly into journalism, politics, family life and Hollywood image making, he tosses out pyrotechnic mini-analyses of dozens of seemingly random cultural phenomena (Tom Ewell in The Seven Year Itch, Elvis Presley in 1956, Joan Rivers on QVC, Robert Evans's autobiography, Dallas). Somehow, he miraculously cobbles together a coherent overview. Uniquely contentious, full of elastic cultural analogies and beautiful prose, Trow's book is a true original.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Top customer reviews
In this book Trow is the same stylist he's always been--with greater or lesser irony--in all his writing. He still plays around with Mrs. Rittenhouse (except she's last year's Mrs. Vanderbilt, or this year's Diana Vreeland). And he still, sometimes, defines his vocabulary while he's first using it in a sentence, or not long before--while you're still catching up. But "My Pilgrim's Progress" (the title goes right back to Louisa May Alcott, and then some) is the clearest and the most self-declaring of any of his satires, essays, "speeches," or plays. And maybe also the funniest. (It would be a trip and a thrill to hear someone reading the entire book out loud.) The origins of "Perhaps you can force me to tell you" (one of the great Trow-satire sentences) are here, but in their own clothes. The 1963 World's Fair makes another appearance, kittycorner to where it clearly was in "Context of No Context." That book's fedora hat is redefined--or refined. Questions of irony and emotion turn out not to have been easy questions in the interim--for any of us.
In short, anyone who worries what some very specific changes---in America, in the media ("hyperactivity," Trow calls this one), in the world---have been doing to our insides (our "selves") should read this book. It's short itself, given all the information--the reporting--that it sums up. It is in no way a "self-help book"; just a very clear diagnosis, no more baffling than any other specialist's. But this specialist is with us in our sense of urgency. He's been trying to take the time; and here he does.