Review: Sontag

Hello readers!

Since her death in 2004, Susan Sontag has remained a fascinating and somewhat enigmatic figure. Sontag: Her Life and Work, a new biography from Benjamin Moser, offers an insightful trail guide to the facets of Sontag’s complicated personality.

Sontag was not an easy writer to understand, and did not want to be, believing any question worth exploring required full application of one’s intellect and an answer at least as complex as the question. Ironically, she viewed herself as a writer of fiction primarily, but published just three novels in her lifetime, while her persona and pronouncements labeled her more generally as that increasingly rare thing: a public intellectual. Striking looks opened doors to the high and low cultural realms of the 60’s and 70’s, the wellsprings of some of her most famous essays. Meanwhile, her success and reputation served as a shield against unresolved internal pain and conflict, one she both used and disavowed, at times seeming to regard herself as some sort of fraud. Devotion to work and political activism kept Sontag’s name well-known within the American intelligentsia through cultural shifts such as the AIDS crisis and 9-11, and she continued writing and publishing until nearly the end of her life.

Moser does not attempt to change or reduce Sontag’s reputation or work to simple, easily-chewed morsels. Instead, he offers an organized, mostly chronological guide to her public and private lives, placing a good portion of her work within societal and historical context, helping make more accessible her intentions, successes and failures.  Add this book to the canon of biographies worthy of their subject—thorough, fulfilling, and a little sad as we come to realize the loss.

–Kelvin

You can purchase Sontag online or call the store to reserve a copy!

Happy reading!

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