Author(s): Wendy Lesser
"Wendy Lesser's extraordinary alertness, intelligence, and curiosity have made her one of America's most significant cultural critics," writes Stephen Greenblatt. In Why I Read, Lesser draws on a lifetime of pleasure reading and decades of editing one of the most distinguished little magazines in the country, The Threepenny Review, to describe a life lived in and through literature. As Lesser writes in her foreword, "Reading can result in boredom or transcendence, rage or enthusiasm, depression or hilarity, empathy or contempt, depending on who you are and what the book is and how your life is shaping up at the moment you encounter it." Here the reader will discover a definition of literature that is as broad as it is broad-minded. In addition to novels and stories, Lesser explores plays, poems, and essays along with mysteries, science fiction, and memoirs. As she examines these works from such perspectives as "Character and Plot," "Novelty," "Grandeur and Intimacy," and "Authority," Why I Read sparks an overwhelming desire to put aside quotidian tasks in favour of reading. A book in the spirit of E. M. Forster's Aspects of the Novel and Elizabeth Hardwick's A View of My Own, Why I Read is iconoclastic, conversational, and full of insight. It will delight those who are already avid readers as well as neophytes in search of sheer literary fun.
"The rare and marvelous pleasure of meeting a fellow reader, the sort of person who, in childhood, automatically turned the cereal box so her eyes could rest on words at all times, is here given new form. Wendy Lesser is candid, democratic, brisk, passionate, stubborn, fiercely exact; as in all memorable conversations, I found myself sometimes wishing to debate, and often bursting into private festivals of concurrence. This is a book of rich provocations and rich delights. More than most contemporary critics, Lesser trusts her instinct: what a joy it is to listen, through these pages, to her bold assessments and charismatic opinions." --Louise Gluck, author of "Poems 1962-2012" "Reading "Why I Read" delivers all the pleasure of discussing one's favorite books with a marvelously articulate, intelligent, opinionated friend. It's like joining the book club of your dreams, one in which you don't have to do any of the work or think up intelligent things to say, but can simply enjoy reading about books you've read or want to read." --Francine Prose, author of "Reading Like a Writer" "Wendy Lesser has read just about everything, and proves a wonderfully companionable guide to books high and low. Rather than attempting anything ponderously encyclopedic, she follows her hunches, asking good, probing questions, voicing cultivated, intelligent opinions and surprising judgments, and doing it all with humor, dash, and skeptical humility. The result is a treat for all who love reading." --Phillip Lopate, author of "To Show and to Tell: The Craft of Literary Nonfiction" "Wendy Lesser's extraordinary alertness, intelligence, and curiosity have made her one of America's most significant cultural critics." --Stephen Greenblatt"An intellectual of unflinching dignity and gravitas, founder of "The Threepenny Review" and author of nine previous books--including literary memoir, cultural criticism, and an incandescent study of Shostakovich--Lesser talks "within" bo
Wendy Lesser is the founder and editor of "The Threepenny Review," which Adam Zagajewski has called "one of the most original literary magazines not only in the U.S. but also on the entire planet." She is the author of eight previous books of nonfiction and one novel. Her most recent book is the prizewinning "Music for Silenced Voices: Shostakovich and His Fifteen String Quartets." She has written for "The New York Times Book Review," the "London Review of Books," "The Times Literary Supplement," and other publications. She divides her time between Berkeley, California, and New York City.