The amateur: an independent life of letters

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Pantheon Books, Feb 2, 1999 - Biography & Autobiography - 274 pages
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The Amateur is an inquiry into how we discover our passions and how they discover us. "I am very conscious," writes Wendy Lesser, one of our shrewdest cultural observers, "of having made choices in my life. You can't plan how the choices will turn out. But you can certainly make them." In The Amateur Lesser explores some of the choices she has made in pursuit of an old-fashioned but indispensable vocation: an independent life of letters. She discusses the place--California--in which she grew up; the institutions-- Harvard, Cambridge, Berkeley--where she received her formal education; the writers, artists, and performers who deepened her critical understanding; and, finally, the literary journal she founded, The Threepenny Review, which she still edits and publishes out of the Berkeley apartment in which it began nearly twenty years ago. Lesser describes both the events in her own life and those she has witnessed on stage, screen, canvas, and paper, noting noting how both experience and art teach us to observe, to discriminate, and to make sense of one another. Written with her trademark intelligence, quiet wit, and elegance, The Amateur is a beguiling work of autobiography.

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The amateur: an independent life of letters

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Founder and director of the Threepenny Review and author of four books of essays and literary criticism, Lesser expands her repertoire with this collection of autobiographical essays. Growing up in ... Read full review


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About the author (1999)

Wendy Lesser is the author of four previous books; her reviews and essays appear in major newspapers and magazines across the country. She has been awarded fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Guggenheim Foundation, and in 1997 she received the Morton Dauwen Zabel Award from the Academy of Arts and Letters. She lives in Berkeley, California, with her husband and son.