A career-spanning collection of writings - essays, memoir, liner notes, fiction and commentary - from one of the greats of contemporary American literature.
This volume sheds light on an array of topics from sex in cinema to drugs, graffiti, Bob Dylan, cyberculture, 9/11, book touring and Marlon Brando. Then there are investigations of a shelf's worth of Jonathan Letham's literary models and contemporaries: Norman Mailer, Philip K. Dick, Bret Easton Ellis, James Wood, and others. And, writing about Brooklyn, his father, and his sojourn through two decades of writing, one of the greats of contemporary American literature sheds an equally strong light on himself.
In The Ecstasy of Influence, Jonathan Lethem, tangling with what he calls the 'white elephant' role of the writer as public intellectual, arrives at an astonishing range of answers.
Funny and unfettered, The Ecstasy of Influence simmers with direct challenges to conventional wisdom and deep insights into the kaleidoscopic nature of artistic vision, the primacy of the writer in the cultural marketplace, and the way the author's own experiences have fuelled his creative passions.
“A high-wire juggling act where all the balls are kept spinning perfectly”
“The pleasure for readers is twofold: on one hand, there is the intrinsic interest in the subjects...On the other, there’s the fact that this is Lethem telling us these things, and how it gives an insight into his own creative practice”
“A collage of what makes Lethem tick”
“Thoughtful and rambunctious ... a jazzy, patchwork memoir ... [a] fresh, erudite, zestful, funny frolic in the great fields of creativity”
“Hefty and remarkable... These byways, all of which make room for eccentric flights as well as proper essays, augment the charm and impact of what Lethem prefers to call an autobiographical collage”
The New York Times Book Review
“I love this book”
The Los Angeles Times
“He’s a novelist who has spent a lifetime creating his own subversive pantheon, a jumpy CBGB’s of the literary soul… Several of the essays here marinate in the fish sauce that is literary gossip… feisty, freewheeling, funny”
The New York Times
“The Ecstasy of Influence is, more than anything, a record of Mr. Lethem’s life as a public novelist, a role for which he is obviously well suited… Mr. Lethem has such a gift, and The Ecstasy of Influence is evidence of it”
New York Observer
“Lethem writes with a commitment to sharing his enthusiasm for whatever obsesses him ... While the results illuminate his formative influences and artistic development, they also cast considerable light on the culture at large, which is both reflected in Lethem's work and has profoundly shaped it”
“Jonathan Lethem...writes superb essays... lovely subtlety”
“Jonathan Lethem, the New York novelist, writes superb essays”
William Leith, Scotsman
“Superb collection of essays… Clever but satisfying, too”
Lesley McDowell, Glasgow Sunday Herald
“A funny and clever selection of essays”
“Impassioned and detailed studies offset with bagatelles”
Stuart Kelly, Guardian
“Witty, astute and irreverent”
James Urquhart, Financial Times