Next book

SEDUCED BY STORY

THE USE AND ABUSE OF NARRATIVE

An enlightening challenge to readers curious about literary theory and its real-world applications.

A rigorous exploration of narrative, from its usage in classic literature to its misuse in contemporary discourse.

In 1984, Brooks published Reading for the Plot, in which he argued that we live in “an episodic, sometimes semiconscious, but virtually uninterrupted monologue” and have situated ourselves “at the intersection of several stories not yet completed.” Decades later, the author senses a problem that warrants this follow-up book: In our world of 24-hour media, narrativity has run amok. Weary of “the storification of reality,” Brooks seeks a way forward that recognizes facts and storytelling as two separate concepts. “The universe is not our stories about the universe,” he explains, “even if those stories are all we have. Swamped in story as we seem to be, we may lose the distinction between the two, asserting the dominion of our constructed realities over the real thing.” Now, he laments, “story…has entered the orbit of political cant and corporate branding.” To better understand this new engagement with storytelling, the author proposes an “analytic unpacking of the claims for narrative.” These whirlwind essays span centuries of literature, from Samuel Richardson’s Clarissa (1747) to Paula Hawkins’ thriller The Girl on the Train (2015). Brooks extrapolates ideas of narrative veracity, character, speaker, and audience, all while conscientiously maintaining his collection’s accessibility. Even readers who are not yet familiar with Proust or Faulkner will find stable footing in these essays despite their many erudite digressions throughout the canon. In the final piece, the author shifts from novels to the legal world and chillingly recounts how the Supreme Court can disparately interpret its cases by widening or constricting the “narrative circle” of a particular situation. He closes with a plea: “We need, more than ever, the reflective knowledge that the humanities can provide, very much including analysis of the dominant stories of our economics, our ethics, our politics.”

An enlightening challenge to readers curious about literary theory and its real-world applications.

Pub Date: Oct. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-68137-663-9

Page Count: 176

Publisher: New York Review Books

Review Posted Online: July 29, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2022

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 16


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • IndieBound Bestseller

Next book

A WEALTH OF PIGEONS

A CARTOON COLLECTION

A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 16


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • IndieBound Bestseller

The veteran actor, comedian, and banjo player teams up with the acclaimed illustrator to create a unique book of cartoons that communicates their personalities.

Martin, also a prolific author, has always been intrigued by the cartoons strewn throughout the pages of the New Yorker. So when he was presented with the opportunity to work with Bliss, who has been a staff cartoonist at the magazine since 1997, he seized the moment. “The idea of a one-panel image with or without a caption mystified me,” he writes. “I felt like, yeah, sometimes I’m funny, but there are these other weird freaks who are actually funny.” Once the duo agreed to work together, they established their creative process, which consisted of working forward and backward: “Forwards was me conceiving of several cartoon images and captions, and Harry would select his favorites; backwards was Harry sending me sketched or fully drawn cartoons for dialogue or banners.” Sometimes, he writes, “the perfect joke occurs two seconds before deadline.” There are several cartoons depicting this method, including a humorous multipanel piece highlighting their first meeting called “They Meet,” in which Martin thinks to himself, “He’ll never be able to translate my delicate and finely honed droll notions.” In the next panel, Bliss thinks, “I’m sure he won’t understand that the comic art form is way more subtle than his blunt-force humor.” The team collaborated for a year and created 150 cartoons featuring an array of topics, “from dogs and cats to outer space and art museums.” A witty creation of a bovine family sitting down to a gourmet meal and one of Dumbo getting his comeuppance highlight the duo’s comedic talent. What also makes this project successful is the team’s keen understanding of human behavior as viewed through their unconventional comedic minds.

A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-26289-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 10


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • New York Times Bestseller

Next book

CINEMA SPECULATION

A top-flight nonfiction debut from a unique artist.

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 10


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • New York Times Bestseller

The acclaimed director displays his talents as a film critic.

Tarantino’s collection of essays about the important movies of his formative years is packed with everything needed for a powerful review: facts about the work, context about the creative decisions, and whether or not it was successful. The Oscar-winning director of classic films like Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs offers plenty of attitude with his thoughts on movies ranging from Animal House to Bullitt to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre to The Big Chill. Whether you agree with his assessments or not, he provides the original reporting and insights only a veteran director would notice, and his engaging style makes it impossible to leave an essay without learning something. The concepts he smashes together in two sentences about Taxi Driver would take a semester of film theory class to unpack. Taxi Driver isn’t a “paraphrased remake” of The Searchers like Bogdanovich’s What’s Up, Doc? is a paraphrased remake of Hawks’ Bringing Up Baby or De Palma’s Dressed To Kill is a paraphrased remake of Hitchcock’s Psycho. But it’s about as close as you can get to a paraphrased remake without actually being one. Robert De Niro’s taxi driving protagonist Travis Bickle is John Wayne’s Ethan Edwards. Like any good critic, Tarantino reveals bits of himself as he discusses the films that are important to him, recalling where he was when he first saw them and what the crowd was like. Perhaps not surprisingly, the author was raised by movie-loving parents who took him along to watch whatever they were watching, even if it included violent or sexual imagery. At the age of 8, he had seen the very adult MASH three times. Suddenly the dark humor of Kill Bill makes much more sense. With this collection, Tarantino offers well-researched love letters to his favorite movies of one of Hollywood’s most ambitious eras.

A top-flight nonfiction debut from a unique artist.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-311258-2

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 31, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2022

Close Quickview