The Ecstasy of Influence: Nonfictions, Etc.

The Ecstasy of Influence Nonfictions Etc What s a novelist supposed to do with contemporary culture And what s contemporary culture supposed to do with novelists In The Ecstasy of Influence Jonathan Lethem tangling with what he calls the w

  • Title: The Ecstasy of Influence: Nonfictions, Etc.
  • Author: Jonathan Lethem
  • ISBN: 9780385534956
  • Page: 231
  • Format: Hardcover
  • What s a novelist supposed to do with contemporary culture And what s contemporary culture supposed to do with novelists In The Ecstasy of Influence, Jonathan Lethem, tangling with what he calls the white elephant role of the writer as public intellectual, arrives at an astonishing range of answers A constellation of previously published pieces and new essays as provWhat s a novelist supposed to do with contemporary culture And what s contemporary culture sup posed to do with novelists In The Ecstasy of Influence, Jonathan Lethem, tangling with what he calls the white elephant role of the writer as public intellectual, arrives at an astonishing range of answers A constellation of previously published pieces and new essays as provocative and idiosyncratic as any he s written, this volume sheds light on an array of topics from sex in cinema to drugs, graffiti, Bob Dylan, cyberculture, 9 11, book touring, and Marlon Brando, as well as on a shelf s worth of his literary models and contemporaries Norman Mailer, Paula Fox, Bret Easton Ellis, James Wood, and oth ers And, writing about Brooklyn, his father, and his sojourn through two decades of writing, Lethem sheds an equally strong light on himself.

    One thought on “The Ecstasy of Influence: Nonfictions, Etc.”

    1. This book sparked a few different emotions in me. Some of them good, like a reminder about why I love books so much, and some not so 'nice', like the recharging of the 'punk' part of me that used to write zines and point accusatory fingers at things that annoy me. Many of the essays in this book mix the borders between the personal and the real subject at hand. This is sort of like what DFW does so well (but in a more introspective manner, DFW might have laid bare an image of his psyche, but he [...]

    2. Lethem's boundless self-obsession and whiningly persistent neediness make this collection impossible to get through, despite the presence of an occasionally decent essay. But the guy's total narcissism just creeps you out after a while. Doesn't he have any friends? Or a decent literary agent? Someone to point out to him that the world might not have been thirsting for his pompously self-important post 9/11 musings, or his pathetic extended whine in response to a negative review by James Woods? O [...]

    3. Sumptuous streams of intellectual rattle ‘n’ roll topped off with the ecstatic influence of Lethem’s non-fic idols (notable: David FW and Lester B and Geoff D). The title piece is alas the most ecstatic in the collection alongside the long(u)e(u)rs on James Brown and SF conventions and the opening shizzle on self-consciousness in autobrifographie. Once fangirling mode is activated (like L Bangs) Lethem gets in a lather and is less convincing (the several novel introductions or music pieces [...]

    4. Uneven, but worthwhile. Some of this is excellent, and there are some marvelous phrases. When he's talking about books, bookstores, movieshe's great. The prose gets a bit dense in places, but it's rewarding. But some pieces really don't work. The music writing is as tedious as most music writing; I confess I started skipping, and I rarely do that. All I could think was the Billy Joel line, "You can't get the sound/from the story in a magazine"--and when Billy Joel's lyrics are more insightful, y [...]

    5. Lethem divides his collection into ten sections: My Plan To Begin With; Dick, Calvino, Ballard: SF and Postmodernism; Plagiarisms; Film and Comics; Wall Art; 9/11 and Book Tour; Dylan, Brown, and Others; Working the Room; The Mad Brooklynite; and What Remains of My Plan. In addition to the usual sources or original publication--Salon, the New Yorker, various literary magazines--some of the pieces here were written for artists' catalogs, CD liner notes, and blogs.The best known essay here might b [...]

    6. "I'm talking about artists with the willpower not to conform to anybody's reality but their own. Patsy Cline and Billy Lee Riley. Plato and Socrates, Whitman and Emerson. Slim Harpo and Donald Trump." --Bob Dylan, in 2006I'll get to that quote in a moment. I want to begin by saying that there was never a time in my life when it didn't seem like Philip K. Dick was a huge and well-regarded figure, not merely as a science-fiction writer but as a writer in general. I mention that because Jonathan Le [...]

    7. There aren't many authors that can hook me on the first page, much less the preface, much less by writing the truth. It seems to be that I only read nonfiction books if I need information or examples for something I'm writing. This is the exception."The Ecstasy of Influence" is one of those books that may be a turning point in life for the reader. I don't know if this is so yet; get back to me in a month.But Jon Lethem seems to understand that readers first want to be entertained, then told the [...]

    8. I was truly not too fond of this book. I give it three stars because my admiration of Lethem and (less than real) feeling of connection to him won't let me give it less. It's a hodge podge of essays, most from magazines. Did he have to put them all in this book? It's overlong and uncentered. It's great for him, as a novelist, that he can get paid to write nonfiction too, but it's not all great for me to read. And for the first time I felt that he writes too much about himself. Can't he stick to [...]

    9. I devoured this fairly long collection in two days of doing little other than restlessly reading these essays and rereading select passages, armed with a leaky ballpoint pen to underline the many fascinating sections, the names I sort of knew but hadn't gotten around to exploring, the many endearingly awkward sentences. The experience of reading The Ecstasy of Influence was pretty much the Platonic ideal of reading an essay collection. It's not that the book is perfect, and it's certainly not th [...]

    10. I do like these types of books which preport to be more than just a collection of writings by an author in between his novels. I would like to think they are more than just a jaded way of cashing in on a writer's reputation to sell books. My favorite and standard is Jonathon Franzen's How to Be Alone which I truly loved. This book however isn't of that quality. I don't know why I turned to it, his last book Chronic City I did find disappointing, it never really took off in my opinion. I did feel [...]

    11. Lethem states in the beginning that often readers get irritated by the self awareness of modern writing. The endless MFA analysing and theorizing about literature is why I didn't major in English lit. While a little navel gazing isn't out of place when reading, the whole "postmodernism" - analysis of analysis of analysis of uber self awareness - the insertion of the author's narcissistic tendencies into the book, if you will - makes me want to spork myself in the eye. Anyway, a couple of good th [...]

    12. I think that he is an excellent writer and have enjoyed all of his fiction that I have read to date. It is A LOT of JL to read in one shot. I think that as he suggested you pick and choose. By the end I felt that I was too much in his brain! As well, some of the pieces are a bit esoteric if you are not familiar with the author/musician that he is writing about.

    13. I savored the pieces in this collection, my first exposure to Lethem's non-fiction. There are treasures here, especially the title essay, his profile of James Brown, and his interview with Bob Dylan. Good reads for sure!

    14. I couldn't even make it through the preface of this audiobook. This was way too left-brained and analytical for me. It sounded like a robot reading a textbook. Snore.

    15. Enjoyable, but some parts are much more interesting than others. 400+ pages was maybe more than needed to be included here. Only for big Lethem fans, otherwise I'd start elsewhere among his oeuvre.

    16. As a teacher, I’m not sure that I’d discuss Lethem’s title essay with any students of my own below the graduate level, since some might see it as an invitation to plagiarize. At the high school and undergraduate level, it’s so important to draw a clear distinction between what’s ok to do and what’s not ok, especially knowing you’ll have to stand by exactly what you said about that distinction if you have to fail someone because he or she plagiarized. But once we get beyond the nece [...]

    17. Lethem is an amazing writer, and it was fun to get a sense of his background and some ideas he has about literature. He explores that broad area where influence, inspiration, borrowing, alluding to and plagiarism mingle. I liked his youthful tales of working in bookstores in Berkeley because I frequented them, and he may have kicked me out at closing time using the first lyric of Dylan's It's All Over Now, Baby Blue.

    18. I read only the essays Lethem himself listed as relating to issues of contemporary literature, the one on postmodernism for example. I like "criticism" written by novelists, not least because you can then see what sort of novels "this sort of thinking" leads to, not that I've read Lethem's fiction. This was quite an interesting read, not always convincing, but fun. Recommended.

    19. What I'm finding is that I'm way more into the themes of Lethem's non-fiction, and how he articulates them, way more than in his fiction. Might finally be time to take Fortress of Solitude off the shelf

    20. Essentially this confirms that Donna Tartt wrote about Lethem and B.E.Ellis at college cause they attended a program together.Also the James Brown bit is grand

    21. I skimmed this, mostly to find out more about Jonathan Lethem's childhood and how similar it was to that of the boy in Fortress of Solitude. A few interesting things, but not that much that I liked

    22. This collection is fantastic. Lethem's writing is, as always, razor sharp and highly intelligent. Both his music writing and his literary criticism were personal highlights for me.

    23. Jonathan Lethem is a fantastically engrossing writer! I'm not just saying that because he took David Foster Wallace's coveted teaching spot at Pomona College. Nor am I saying it because I loved Motherless Brooklyn. I'm saying it because, as I learned by traversing his NBCC nominated (for criticism) The Ecstasy of Influence, Lethem succeeds in getting you to read and care about topics about which you had no previous interest. And that's the mark of a truly great writer!I'm actually plagiarizing m [...]

    24. I am a huge fan of Jonathan Lethem's writing. I wrote my master's thesis on The Fortress of Solitude and plan to dedicate a sizable portion of a dissertation chapter to it as well.That being said, while Lethem's writing here is generally as strong and thoughtfully self-conscious as I like, I think the very format of the book—a bunch of essays and short pieces from a variety of sources—makes for a very uneven collection.Full disclosure: While I read about 80% of what is in here, I did not rea [...]

    25. "For if we consent that what appears natural in art is actually constructed from a series of hidden postures, decisions, and influences, etc we make ourselves eligible to weigh the notion that what's taken as natural in our experience of everyday life could actually be a construction as well." (xv)"Our language has no choice but to be self-conscious if it is to be conscious in the first place." (xix)"That's how I regard this fate of ours, drowning in a cultural sea: reasons to be cheerful." (xxi [...]

    26. Lethem calls this “an autobiographical montage”, The title comes from an ingenious and infamous essay he wrote in defense of plagiarism in Harpers, consisting entirely of appropriated text and stories. This book is a massive compendium of Lethem’s fanboy obsessions, critical reviews, book introductions, recommendations, and opinions, combined with his memoirs and autobiographical writings, as well as stories that he keeps coming back to throughout his career. He pays tribute to his favorit [...]

    27. 2011. Non-faction, essays, liner notes, book intros, stories, segues. Jonathem Lethem all the way. Post-modernism is the word. An essayist tiptoes into memoir via (mainly) previously published pieces.I see below that reviews are mixed for this work in book form. I bought it because the professional(?) reviews on-air and in print rhapsodized over Lethem the novelist, the post-modern essayist, and one reviewer in particular seemed to catch a glimpse of heaven because Lethem apparently swore off no [...]

    28. I'm not sure why I read this? I mean, ok, there are two reasons why I read it: 1) Because he's writing a book for the 33 1/3 series about Talking Heads' Fear of Music, and 2) Because I watched a bonus feature on the Criterion edition of Bigger Than Life of him talking about the film and really liked what he had to say. However, I haven't read any of his books, which, though only occasionally addressed specifically, hover in the background of this entire endeavor. I read almost the whole thing - [...]

    29. Lethem describes this volume as a "commonplace" book, and it is indeed a collection of large and small essays, reviews, commentary, and journalism. It should be of interest to anyone who wants to see one of the better writers of the current generation navigate the tough contemporary literary landscape.One reason Lethem is more successful than the rest of us is that he has learned to leverage every aspect of his life and experiences into published writing, some noteworthy, others ephemera. Whethe [...]

    30. For me, Jonathan Lethem is very hit or miss. When he sucks me in, I LOVE it. No one I've read can top Lethem's sense of synthesizing different areas of thought in his best pieces. Whether that be literal with the piece herein regarding plagiarism, copyright and theft, or in a strange topical journey through a traffic jam that lasts for days, Lethem shows the depth of his intellectual resources. Which is exactly what leaves me wanting more (or more accurately, less) from some of the pieces that f [...]

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