Matt's Reviews > All the Sad Young Literary Men

All the Sad Young Literary Men by Keith Gessen
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's review
Sep 28, 2009

really liked it

Another book that, for me at least, is best enjoyed if you let it dictate the terms of what you get out of it (like Unferth's, or Galchen's novels). The stories that are told here, of three Harvard grads with similar literary-political ambitions who tumble through a decade or so (from ca. 98-08) are full of rich observations, some seriously sustained grad school critique of culture material, and often some pretty bracing humor and funny literary asides-- you really could play "spot the model," esp for Keith's chapters (maybe the others, too, and I just didn't catch them). But as stories, like with endings and such, they don't quite work, at least not for me-- there's a sweeping gesture at the end of the last chapter, but as much as it moved me, I think it was sort of arbitrary and not necessarily organic with what had come before.

I'm also a little unsure it's a novel-- more like three staggered novellas about three similar guys.

I'm rambling here. It was a fun read, and a smart one. But it's not, for example, as satisfying as Kunkel's _Indecision_, a funnier book on a similar idea that does have a real arc to the story.

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