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The Ecstasy of Influence by Jonathan Lethem
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The Ecstasy of Influence

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The Ecstasy of Influence by Jonathan Lethem
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Oct 02, 2012 | ISBN 9780307744500

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    Oct 02, 2012 | ISBN 9780307744500

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  • Nov 08, 2011 | ISBN 9780385534963

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  • Nov 08, 2011 | ISBN 9780307940865

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“I love this book. . . . Less of a collection than a collage, a cut-and-paste self-portrait in which we see Lethem as he sees himself. . . . A book about a big idea.” —David L. Ulin, Los Angeles Times
“Begins with this idea of writer-as-magpie and takes it on a communitarian-artistic romp. . . . It’s a grand performance. . . . And delivered with a wink.” —San Francisco Chronicle
“Like almost everything Lethem has written, The Ecstasy of Influence is a reflection of, and a pixilated homage to, those whose work he fetishizes. If this book has a thesis, it’s this: For an artist, influence is everything.” —The New York Times
“[An] exuberant whiz-bang of an essay collection.” —The Daily Beast
“Hefty and remarkable. . . . Dominating all is Lethem’s prime concern always: the novel. . . . More exciting than any of his interesting-to-terrific fiction.” —Robert Christgau, The New York Times Book Review

“[Lethem is] as sharp a critic as he is a novelist. This collection shows you why.” —Austin American-Statesman
“Lethem takes a boldly different tack on the matter of mentors, gurus, fathers, shapers and sources. . . . He not only acknowledges his literary and psychological progenitors; he insists upon them, celebrates them, and invites the reader to join in an exhilarating if sometimes baffling deconstruction of the very idea of influence.” —The Dallas Morning News
“Lethem’s inspired miscellany is ardent and charming. . . . His essays are zippy and freewheeling.”—Chicago Tribune
“Sharp and funny.” —The Plain Dealer
“Frank and boisterous. . . . The Ecstasy of Influence is, more than anything, a record of Mr. Lethem’s life as a public novelist, a role for which he is obviously well suited. . . . Mr. Lethem has such a gift, and The Ecstasy of Influence is evidence of it.” —The New York Observer
“This impassioned, voluble book is illuminating about much more than its author.”—The Independent (London)
The Ecstasy of Influence is in part an attempt to discuss the things artists and writers rarely talk about—how much of their work is borrowed from other artists and how much they care about their critical reputations, among other things.” —Salon
“Smart and rollicking. . . . Brilliantly dissect[s] the various sulks, funks, and paranoias of being a writer who moans about doing writerly things—not least among them writing itself.” —The Millions
“A wide and wonderful series of subjects that are threaded together, mostly, as a kind of autobiography of a would-be writer becoming a struggling writer and then a successful writer while all the while remaining a voracious reader.” —National Post (Canada)
“The author invites us into the ecstasy of intertextuality, to the intertwining of thousands of words with ourselves.”—PopMatters
“The arguments implicit in his novels are not merely explicit here, but deliriously so, ecstatically so, as if the author is shaking you by the shoulders to show you what he loves, why he loves it and why you should love it, too.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)


National Book Critics Circle Awards FINALIST 2011

Table Of Contents

i: My Plan to Begin With
My Plan to Begin With, Part One
The Used Bookshop Stories
The Books They Read
Going Under in Wendover
Zelig of Notoriety
ii: Dick, Calvino, Ballard: SF and Postmodernism
My Plan to Begin With, Part Two
Crazy Friend (Philip K. Dick)
What I Learned at the Science-Fiction Convention
The Best of Calvino: Against Completism
Postmodernism as Liberty Valance
The Claim of Time (J. G. Ballard)
Give Up
iii: Plagiarisms
The Ecstasy of Influence
The Afterlife of “Ecstasy”/Somatics of Influence
Always Crashing in the Same Car
Against “Pop” Culture
iv: Film and Comics
Supermen!: An Introduction
Top-Five Depressed Superheroes
The Epiphany
Everything Is Broken (Art of Darkness)
Godfather IV
Great Death Scene (McCabe & Mrs. Miller)
Kovacs’s Gift
Marlon Brando Breaks
Missed Opportunities
Donald Sutherland’s Buttocks
The Drew Barrymore Stories
v: Wall Art
The Collector (Fred Tomaselli)
An Almost Perfect Day (Letter to Bonn)
The Billboard Men (Larry Sultan and Mike Mandel)
Todd James
Writing and the Neighbor Arts
Live Nude Models
On a Photograph of My Father
vi: 9/11 and Book Tour
Nine Failures of the Imagination
Further Reports in a Dead Language
To My Italian Friends
My Egyptian Cousin
Cell Phones
Proximity People
Repeating Myself
Bowels of Compassion
Advertisements for Norman Mailer
White Elephant and Termite Postures in the Life of the Twenty-first-Century Novelist
vii: Dylan, Brown, and Others
The Genius of James Brown
People Who Died
The Fly in the Ointment
Dancing About Architecture
Dylan Interview
Open Letter to Stacy (The Go-Betweens)
Otis Redding’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
Rick James
an orchestra of light that was electric
viii: Working the Room
Bolaño’s 2666
Homely Doom Vibe (Paula Fox)
Ambivalent Usurpations (Thomas Berger)
Rushmore Versus Abundance
Outcastle (Shirley Jackson)
Thursday (G. K. Chesterton)
My Disappointment Critic/On Bad Faith
The American Vicarious (Nathanael West)
ix: The Mad Brooklynite
Ruckus Flatbush
Crunch Rolls
Children with Hangovers
L. J. Davis
Agee’s Brooklyn
Breakfast at Brelreck’s
The Mad Brooklynite
x: What Remains of My Plan
Zeppelin Parable
What Remains of My Plan
Things to Remember

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