Penchants & places: essays and criticism

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A.A. Knopf, Feb 21, 1995 - Literary Criticism - 289 pages
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"Brad Leithauser's criticism and 'high reportage' has a vivid edge over that of most of his contemporaries. We hear in it the voice of a writer and poet, speaking not only to a wider public with authority but also to his peers in poetry and fiction. The result is of compelling intelligence and range (science and the arts, censorship and the spirit of place). Not to be missed." -- George Steiner In his first collection of essays and criticism, the celebrated poet and novelist focuses on subjects exceptionally close to his heart. He considers the ghost story as a literary form and through the prism of two of its prominent practitioners -- Henry James and M. R. James. He writes about the spiritual world of Flannery O'Connor, the alternate universe of Salman Rushdie's Satanic verses, the mind of H. G. Wells. He brilliantly makes clear for the layperson the possibilities of computer chess and the future of thinking machines, and acquaints us with the biographies of three mathematical geniuses -- Niels Bohr, Werner Heisenberg, and India's Ramanujan. He also writes about two countries he's lived in and feels passionate about -- introducing us to Japan through essays on recently published books by Tanizaki, Kobo Abe, and Murakami; and to Iceland with an homage to Independent People by the Nobel Prize-winning Halldor Laxness, the novel Leithauser calls the "book of my life." Provocative, witty, thoughtful, Leithauser's new book has the power to kindle and ignite our interest in the uncommon people, places, and things that deeply engage him.

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PENCHANTS AND PLACES: Essays and Criticism

User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

The subjects in this collection of scrupulous, varied, but sometimes ephemeral essays from poet and novelist Leithauser (Seaward, 1993, etc.) range from mathematical to literary creativity, from Japan ... Read full review

Penchants & places: essays and criticism

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Leithauser (Seaward, LJ 5/1/93) is drawn to the mathematical mind, the logical thinker. These essays demonstrate how creative the scientific mind really is, with Leithauser his own best example. The ... Read full review


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About the author (1995)

Brad Leithauser was born in Detroit and graduated from Harvard College and Harvard Law School. He is the author of the novels Seaward (1993), Hence (1989), and Equal Distance (1985), and of three volumes of poetry -- The Mail from Anywhere (1990), Cats of the Temple (1986), and Hundreds of Fireflies (1982) -- and is the editor of The Norton Book of Ghost Stories (1993). He is the recipient of many awards for his writing, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, an Ingram Merrill Grant, and a MacArthur Fellowship. He teaches at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts, where he lives with his wife, the poet Mary Jo Salter, and their two daughters, Emily and Hilary.

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