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Wednesday, October 3, 2018

American Audacity

"Books, like love, make life worth living." : William Giraldi 

"American Audacity: In Defense Of Literary Daring" (2018) is the smartest love story I've ever read. William Giraldi's fierce intelligence, passion for literature, and his own unequivocal audacity ignite nearly every page. Over five consecutive days, I eagerly anticipated the hours I'd be spending in Giraldi's company. 

"Tell me the books you read and I'll tell you who you are; tell me you read no books and I'll tell you there is no you." (from "A Single Shade of Grey" in section one - American Moments)

Particularly instructive for me was the way Giraldi continually cites cliches and tautologies that can drain the vitality from any writer's prose. Even his critical and literary heroes - Cynthia Ozick, Harold Bloom, James Baldwin - get carefully scrutinized and held to account when tired formulations appear in their work. I challenge anyone to read "American Audacity" end-to-end and tell me they're not a smarter reader having done so.

"But there are no bad guys or good guys in literature. There are wrong guys and right guys, guys who write well and guys who don't." (from "Against Dullness" in section two - American Critics)

When exposed to a mind - like Giraldi's - able to think deeply and richly about what he reads, I'm often envious. And though envy is not a healthy response, it frequently motivates me. In this case, I'm motivated to become a more discerning reader and a better writer. If either outcome occurs, I'll have "American Audacity" to thank.

"...knowing what scientists now believe about the protean personality of memory 'I think I remember' is the only accurate way to preface our recollections."  (from "Truth To Spirit" in section three - American Stories)

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