A WRITER'S WIT
My Book World
So many books I would not hear of if I did not watch C-SPAN’s Book-TV on the weekends—and so much cheaper than an expensive subscription to something like Publisher’s Weekly. In hearing Benjamin Moser speak of his years of research on this biography, I knew right away I wanted to read his book. He has undertaken an encyclopedic yet nuanced telling of Susan Sontag’s life, both the good and the bad, and her works both the lauded and the reviled. Moser divides his monumental book into four major parts of many chapters of short to moderate length, allowing the reader to absorb the material instead of being overwhelmed by it. In addition to many varied sources, Moser utilizes much evidence from Sontag’s own voluminous journals.
He begins with important early biography because Susan Sontag’s childhood gels her personality into one that haunts her until the day she dies. Her mother is hardly a nurturing person and helps to germinate Sontag’s many insecurities, including her body, which is eventually consumed by cancer. While though she is a brilliant intellectual and contributes much to a broad understanding of literature as well as world politics, she can be childishly petulant and hold a grudge longer than most. She tries the patience of all the people whom she purports to love. In spite of all her faults, however, Moser paints a sympathetic portrait of his subject because she does seem to be a victim of her own literary success, as well as a victim of her childhood. Moser is able to draw from many sources, including Sontag’s own words, and distill the facts in such a manner that one can understand the legend in terms that are both realistic and reverential—a must-read for fans or those (like me) who would like to know more about the subject.
NEXT FRIDAY: My Book World | TBD