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American Romances: Essays

4.12 of 5 stars 4.12  ·  rating details  ·  67 ratings  ·  18 reviews
"Everything and nothing is sacred in Rebecca Brown's essays. Tongue, word, thought, and intellect all conspire in a free language love of living history, divination, sex, solitude and amusement. She is America's only real rock n' roll schoolteacher. Lessons layered with profundity and protracted parallels. Where old world religion, Gertrude Stein and Oreo cookies co-exist ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published June 1st 2009 by City Lights Publishers
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Elevate Difference
In this bountiful blend of writing, Rebecca Brown discusses the interpretation of words in the past and present. She mixes classic pieces of writing with contemporary history and combines her own coming-of-age anecdotes with other writings. Her commentary is sometimes shocking, sometimes eloquent, and overall, leaves you to wonder what she is thinking. Why does she choose to develop these essays this way? By reading more, you realize her point: for her entire life, she has tried tirelessly to fi ...more
City Lights
Los Angeles Times

"The essays in American Romances cover a lot of ground: listening, faith, invisibility, extreme reading, the West. They practically read themselves, that's how much fun they are." —Susan Salter Reynolds


Lambda Book Report

"In American Romances, her new book of essays, Rebecca Brown has a voice that is full of pop references, family stories, and the fruits of a lifetime of -- in her perfect phrase – extreme reading. The voice is a hoot, and it is dead serious. This is writing with
...more
Tatiana
i think i'm in love. totally head over heels in love. luuuuuuuuv.

considering that i already obsessively check websites to get even a whisper of a possible new rebecca brown book, then count down the days til i can buy and read the new book, i think i was already a little bit in love.

and, to be perfectly honest, i was the tiniest bit disappointed to learn it was non-fiction this time, no gut-wrenching heart-stomping little bundles of stories that hurt so unbelievably good, but i was like hey, i
...more
Bob Redmond
Rebecca Brown has written some very essential liner notes to the noise of America. That noise being our pop culture but also all the simmering fractures beneath it: she re-connects the Beach Boys' "Surfer Girl" to its original wellspring (Jiminy Cricket's "When You Wish Upon a Star," but then welds Brian Wilson's Hawthorne (California) to Nathaniel Hawthorne and to her own family history. She nails the conundrum of America: its simultaneous promise and continual failure, and still, the possibili ...more
Shawn (ThatOneEnglishGradStudent)
It seems to me that the majority of nonfiction falls into two camps: that which is written from a literary standpoint and that which is written like a textbook. What Rebecca Brown does in AMERICAN ROMANCES is she makes the two meet in the middle and crafts one of the most unique books I've ever read. This is not to say I absolutely loved the book, but it is memorable. Brown is a terrific writer, and the topics of her essays in this book are varied and innovative (who would think to draw parallel ...more
Richard
Disclaimer first: Rebecca Brown and I are old friends and close friends. We have know each other since about 1975. I have read all of her books, many more than once.

That said, this book is a masterpiece. Brown's first book of non-fiction, American Romances is an unsentimental meditation on American culture from Hawthorne (Nathaniel) to Hawthorne (the SoCal suburb where Brian Wilson grew up). Brown interweaves autobiography, cultural criticism, literary criticism, and general all-round fucking a
...more
Jen
It wasn't until I declared out loud that I hated this book that I was able to let it grown on me. Once I admitted that it made me feel foolish and that I couldn't understand the literary and pop culture references, I gave up trying and began to enjoy the book. The essays and style diverge from any I have read, and she plays with a lot of ideas in the writing. The book incorporates autobiography, pop culture, literary history (Nathaniel Hawthorne and Brian Wilson become connected and compared), a ...more
Erica
Aug 03, 2009 Erica rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: queer
I thought many things while reading this book, and then I finished it and started over, thinking many different things. I guess the best thing to say here would be the thought that struck me halfway through the first essay, which involved a juxtaposition of the lives and writings of Nathaniel Hawthorne, author of the Scarlet Letter, and Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys: This is like reading Sarah Vowell on crack.
Nick
Please read this book if you've ever been interested in anything, ever. Especially, though, if those interests have included The Beach Boys, Nathaniel Hawthorne, the Puritans, sex, Gertrude Stein, The Invisible Man, John Wayne, the Cuban Missle Crisis, same-sex religious movements, books, or anything, ever.
Debra
American Romances: Essays by Rebecca Brown was another writer instructor at the Northwoods Writers Conference. I don't read many authors of essays but I found her writing incredible!
Ellen
Brilliant, funny, unexpected, and entirely new. Rebecca raises questions, shifts perspectives, and makes connections as only she and her genius mind can do. I'm looking forward to re-reading this for my book group.
Trent
The essay "Extreme Reading," which is among other things about the subjectivity of our experience of reading any particular book at one moment in time, is a masterpiece.
reed
Hard to describe this collection of essays, but I enjoyed them. Rebecca Brown is brilliant but sometimes not very entertaining. These essays, however, delighted me.
Rahna
Brilliant, compelling - easy to read but also incredibly challenging and informative. It's a whirlwind of who we are, and who we think we are
Linda
thoroughly confusing, entertaining, thought provoking, beautiful, frustrating, inspiring, and wonderful. as always. I love Rebecca Brown.
Oriana
Aug 07, 2009 Oriana marked it as to-read
Recommends it for: City Lights
oooh, I love Rebecca Brown.
Matthew
Brown's prose strains for edginess, while her ideas strain at connections. The collection opens with a tenuous juxtaposition between Hawthorne and Brian Wilson around the subject of the tension between fathers and sons. With the exception of "The Priests," which is a moving and jarring memoir of faith and sexuality, the rest of the essays seem to retreat Intro to American Studies topoi that felt sophomoric, if more fun and punky, in the hands of Kathy Acker thirty or forty years ago.
Kathleen
Kathleen marked it as to-read
Mar 26, 2015
Ashley Donnelly
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8109
Rebecca Brown’s diverse oeuvre contains collections of essays and short stories, a fictionalized autobiography, a modern bestiary, a memoir in the guise of a medical dictionary, a libretto for a dance opera, a play, and various kinds of fantasy.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rebecca_...
More about Rebecca Brown...
The Gifts of the Body The Terrible Girls Excerpts from a Family Medical Dictionary Annie Oakley's Girl The Dogs: A Modern Bestiary

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