JOSEPH EPSTEIN is the author of the best-selling Snobbery: The American Version, among other books, and was formerly editor of the American Scholar. His work has appeared in The New Yorker, Harper"s Magazine, the Atlantic Monthly, and other magazines. He
The celebrated essayist anatomizes our sociocultural obsession with gossip, delineating the ways that it can bring people together as well as tear them apart.
Having previously devoted books to such universal human institutions as ambition, snobbery, envy and friendship, Epstein (The Love Song of A. Jerome Minkoff, 2010, etc.) dives headfirst into the often murky waters of that most reviled form of communication: gossip. Read full book review >
Epstein (Pertinent Players, 1993, etc.) delivers literary appreciations and depreciations of an eclectic set of members of the Republic of Letters. In his fourth collection of literary essays, Epstein knowledgeably displays his affinity for the old school of bare-knuckles criticism as practiced by H.L. Mencken and Edmund Wilson. Read full book review >
Epstein's (Pertinent Players, 1993, etc.) fifth collection of familiar essays, all drawn from his quarterly column in the magazine he edits (The American Scholar), maintains his high standards of honesty and amiability. Approaching sixty, this self-described old fogy strikes a cheerfully elegiac note in these admittedly solipsistic pieces. Read full book review >
``The style of the essayist is that of an extremely intelligent, highly commonsensical person talking, without stammer and with impressive coherence, to him- or herself and to anyone else who cares to eavesdrop,'' writes essayist Epstein in his introduction to this satisfying eighth volume of the annual series. Along with series editor Robert Atwan, Epstein presents a range of voices and styles—from Joseph Brodsky writing in The New Republic to Cynthia Ozick in The New Yorker and Lewis Thomas in Audubon. Read full book review >
Editor of The American Scholar and a prolific essayist (A Line Out for a Walk, p. 314, etc.), Epstein debuts in fiction with this collection of nine stories, almost all of them about middle-aged Jewish men who grew up in the West Rogers Park area of Chicago. Many of these competent pieces serve the ideological agenda of the magazine in which they first appeared, the neo-conservative Commentary. ``Marshal Wexler's Brilliant Career,'' from the point of view of an Allan Bloomish Univ. of Chicago professor, tells of a student who becomes a prominent radical-chic publisher and writer. Read full book review >
The title, American Scholar editor Epstein (Partial Ideas, 1988, etc.) tells us, is taken from Paul Klee's explanation of his art: ``I take a line out for a walk''-which, Epstein adds, ``describes exactly, precisely, absolutely what I do.'' And so it does, as demonstrated by these congenial essays, which ramble and slide from one idea to another, but always attain some sort of destination, or point. Read full book review >