Friday, August 15, 2008

Daniel Mendelsohn's essays

In the New York Observer this week, I review Daniel Mendelsohn's How Beautiful It Is and How Easily It Can Be Broken, a collection of his (brilliant) essays:
Daniel Mendelsohn brightens the dour New York Review of Books like few other contributors. This is partly thanks to his subject matter: neither Iraq nor climate change but literature, theater and the movies. It’s also thanks to his—not style, exactly; Mr. Mendelsohn’s a gifted writer, but the prose of his essays is less lyrical than that of his books, The Lost (2006) and The Elusive Embrace (1999). What distinguishes his criticism, rather, is a willingness to address not just the arts but their reception. He writes reviews as cultural commentary, and he’s more or less mastered the form.