21.4.08

All The Sad Young Literary Men

I don't think I can improve upon Judith Shulevitz's Slate.com review of Keith Gessen's "All The Sad Young Literary Men". The only thing I would add that she didn't mention is that the mushy, love-stuff sits around the book too long past the half-way point and gets tiring. Otherwise I think she's on point. An excerpt:

"Don't let the smug undertone alienate you overmuch, though. Gessen earns it, more or less. He is, in fact, a very good satirist. He skewers with glee, like a latter-day Mary McCarthy. He knows things about today's young male literary journalists that the rest of us suspect but lack the means to confirm. He knows how overconfident they are and how easily overcome with self-disgust. He knows that they're starving to be told that they matter and must tamp down the certainty that they don't. He knows that they're ferociously career-minded, and terrified of being labeled as such. That Harvardian conviction that one's every utterance partakes of genius? He grasps that it is more likely to be a trait of men, or at least he does not attribute it to the book's women."

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