In 15 beautifully written essays and reviews culled from the New Criterion, Bawer proves his mettle as a contentious, skeptical literary critic. He deflates the reputations of John Updike and Donald Barthelme, accuses Peter Matthiessen of romanticizing the lives and customs of ``primitive'' peoples and, in his most withering critique, paints Doris Lessing as a windy narcissist whose novels mirror her egocentric rebellion against bourgeois conformity. Bawer's psychobiographical probes are fruitful, as when he traces Graham Greene's obsession with sin, espionage and betrayal to the Catholic novelist's ordeal at public school in England, where Greene's father was headmaster and where boys were required to rat on each other. Elsewhere Bawer ( Diminishing Fictions ) champions relatively neglected writers such as Willa Cather, Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, William Maxwell and Penelope Fitzgerald. Written with style, wit and a keen sense of engagement, these essays are a cause for celebration. (June)
Reviewed on: 05/03/1993 Release date: 05/01/1993 Genre: Nonfiction
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