Mythili's Reviews > How Beautiful It Is And How Easily It Can Be Broken: Essays
How Beautiful It Is And How Easily It Can Be Broken: Essays
by Daniel Mendelsohn
by Daniel Mendelsohn
Jan 16, 09
Read in January, 2009
Daniel Mendelsohn observes in this collection's intro that as a critic, "however random the assignments you accept, you always end up writing your own intellectual autobiography." That's one of the reasons why this volume is so interesting -- reading his careful reviews of everything from The Lovely Bones to Oliver Stone's Alexander to a Broadway staging of The Glass Menagerie starring Jessica Lange and Christian Slater, Mendelsohn's particular proclivities and preoccupations gradually emerge. Having so far read about half the essays in the collection, I'm starting to conclude that there's something a bit prissy about Mendelsohn's approach to criticism -- but that may just be my reaction to his "purist's" background as a Greek/Latin classicist (which of course brings his criticism an admirable rigor as well). And in any case, these essays are brilliant, thoughtful, deeply researched and very engaging. Mendelsohn's review of Kill Bill: Vol 1 answered some unsolved questions I had about what the bloody heck Tarantino was referencing in places; his essay on Dale Peck raises great issues on the practice and function of literary criticism; and in other reviews, he neatly fills in the blanks on the biographies of Henry James and Oscar Wilde and Alexander the Great (while weighing contemporary takes on their work and reminding the reader of the roots of these dead white guys' relevance in the first place). I know more than a few of my Goodreads buddies dig these kinds of explorations as much as I do. It took me a while to get around to picking up this book but I'm glad I finally did ... If you loathed The Lovely Bones but couldn't entirely articulate why it seemed so insidious, this book is for you.
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