By Sven Birkerts
(Graywolf Press, Paperback, 9781555972837, 274pp.)
Publication Date: January 1999
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Readings combines the best of Sven Birkerts's previously published criticism with vital new essays. A dazzling writer whose clarity, rigor, and far-flung intellectual curiosity have been widely praised, Birkerts the literary critic is in top form in these pages. Whether discussing Elizabeth Bishop or Don DeLillo, Rilke or Kerouac, Keats or The Great Gatsby, he brings fresh insight, sharp thinking, and reflective sensitivity to each of his subjects.
A brilliant cultural commentator, Birkerts also addresses broader, more associative topics, such as biography and the enigma of poetic inspiration, contemporary nostalgia, our modern sense of time, and the future of the creative spirit. As Jonathan Franzen wrote in The New Yorker, "Birkerts on reading fiction is like M.F.K. Fisher on eating or Norman Maclean on fly casting. He makes you want to go do it." This is writing about reading at its best.
Sven Birkerts is also the author of The Gutenberg Elegies: The Fate of Reading in an Electronic Age. He teaches at Mount Holyoke College, is a member of the core faculty of the Bennington Writing Seminars, and lives in Arlington, Massachusetts.
"To read Birkerts is to hear (and enjoy hearing) the voice of literary conscience."—Seamus Heaney
"Expansive and eclectic and laserous and lucid and impassioned and heartlessly smart. Birkerts is the most interesting and persuasive critic in the U.S. today."—David Foster Wallace
"Whether he is meditating on the new media technology, discussing his own failings, decrying post-modernism, or simply critiquing a new novel, Birkerts is a joy to read. The sincerity of his ideas shines through on every page, and his self-effacing candor is a refreshing change from the ironic critical stances that seem to dominate these days . . . Whether or not you agree with Birkerts's positions, you will find yourself ruminating on his themes long after you have finished reading."—Booklist
"Some of the most finely wrought, and deeply considered, criticism being written today."—Publishers Weekly
More than 150 writers from 40 events will gather in New York City for PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature, April 28 – May 4, 2014.
For its 10th anniversary, the festival celebrates those who have dared to stand ‘on the edge,’ risking their careers, and sometimes their lives, to speak out for their art and beliefs. Join us for a wide range of events, including debates, one-on-one conversations, participatory workshops and performances in venues throughout the city. Use the code PEN14 (use PEN2014 for events at The Public Theater) and receive a 20 percent discount on most events. www.worldvoicesfestival.org