Imatge de l'autor

Vivian Gornick

Autor/a de Fierce Attachments: A Memoir

22+ obres 2,669 Membres 65 Ressenyes 2 preferits

Sobre l'autor

Vivian Gornick is a writer and critic whose work has received two National Book Critics Circle Award nominations and been collected in The Best American Essays 2014. Her works include the memoirs Fierce Attachments and The Odd Woman and the City and the classic text on writing The Situation and the mostra'n més Story. mostra'n menys

Obres de Vivian Gornick

Obres associades

O Pioneers! (1913) — Introducció, algunes edicions6,369 exemplars
Rereadings (2005) — Col·laborador — 677 exemplars
The Norton Book of Women's Lives (1993) — Col·laborador — 409 exemplars
Writing New York: A Literary Anthology (1998) — Col·laborador — 281 exemplars
Modern American Memoirs (1995) — Col·laborador — 189 exemplars
The Best American Essays 2014 (2014) — Col·laborador — 165 exemplars

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Vivian Gornick becomes a flaneur in her own city and relates priceless anecdotes of her encounters along her walks, with strangers and with friends. It is a prize for anyone who loves good writing, musing on friendship, culture, identity and New York City.
 
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featherbooks | Hi ha 14 ressenyes més | May 7, 2024 |
I did not enter this book looking for a manual on how to write. Instead, I was looking for insightful commentary on good writing. I was not disappointed. I love books that point me to other books and some of the essays mentioned are easily downloadable. There were moments where this book could have been tailored for me personally. For example, the essay 'In Bed' by Joan Didion about living with migraines spoke to me directly. I like the way Gornick quotes at length because it gives me a kind of vicarious opportunity to be immersed in voices I would normally have encountered.

'...to tamper with the past, even one's own, is to bring [on] that slipping, sliding horror which revolves around all that is done, unalterable, and yet which abides unseen in the living mind... [and makes] us lonely beyond belief.' (quote from Loren Eiseley)

If this little book is flawed, and I suspect it is, it is because Vivian Gornick's premise that character development of the narrator/author that emerges from the distinction between situation and story is what lifts the writing towards greatness does not seem to apply to this extended essay. I kept looking (in vain) for her. Nevertheless, I like her lucid, airy style and look forward to opening up my next read which is again by Vivian Gornick, Unfinished Business: Notes of a Chronic Re-Reader . Maybe then I'll re-read it?
… (més)
 
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simonpockley | Hi ha 6 ressenyes més | Feb 25, 2024 |
Despite my reticence to identify with any political label I have sometimes, in casual political conversation, referred to my self as a communist. I’ve done this to provoke, as amongst most people I know the word still evokes something dangerous and foreign. I’ve also done it as a kind of shorthand, a simple label to express my skepticism of capitalism and the culture of spiraling consumption I grew up in. After reading this book, I’ve learned that not only do I not want to be a communist, I don’t deserve to be one.

Growing up in the 90s and 00s, the word communism had been so thoroughly drained of any real meaning that I don’t think the average American of my parents generation could even tell you what it meant. After all, the folks Gornick interviews in this book were reminiscing about a by-gone era in the mid-70s - these people could have been my great or even great-great grandparents. The time of an organized communist party was distant history when I was becoming politically aware, and the contemporary communist party seemed a kind of cosplay joke. My thoughts on politics were being shaped by the writers and philosophers I was reading, many of whom sat comfortably on the far left of the spectrum, but the people I listened to for my opinions on current politics (mainly the daily show, maybe a Michael Moore movie I rented from the library) were never explicitly talking about capitalism, much less communism. The word itself conjured vague impressions of villainous looking Eastern Europeans, gulags, repression.

Of course, Obama was a disappointment for people my age, and the election of Trump the death blow to my perception that history is a long arc towards justice or however the saying goes. I think these twin factors, along with the clear correlation between capitalist industry with gratuitous environmental destruction, as well as the feeling that even a modest existence in America was more and more a pipe dream, led to many people of my generation to commit more deeply to learning about politics. For me, the motivation was a desire to understand. I couldn’t make sense of what was happening around me, why the feeling I had at 16 and 17 that the world was going to get better, that we would solve our problems through technocratic benevolence and enlightened discourse was melting away as quickly as an Antarctic glacier. Dipping my toes into radical thought has given me some sense of direction again, led me to see that the economic system built in the wake of the Industrial Revolution is tumbling towards entropy, and that if we don’t do something to stem the tide, the future looks bleak. It’s in this context that I felt I could truly own my claim of being a communist, or at the very least, an anti-capitalist. Gornick quotes one Claud Cockburn who says he never became a communist to help people, instead communism was the only was he could imagine human society surviving for any meaningful span of time, so dire were the conditions both contemporary and predicted. In fact, he says, communism for him was a conservative ideology, in that it was conserving meaningful life and livable society. Out of everything I read in this book, this viewpoint struck me as closest to my own.

After reading Marx and then hopping ahead to modern works of radical thought, it can be easy to forget the intervening 150 years of leftist history , a good chunk of which was dominated by the Soviet Union and the Central Communist Committee. Reading Gornick’s book shines a light on just how different it was to be a leftist in the middle of the last century. The simple fact that communist party bureaus the world over we’re paying membership dues to the central committee in Soviet Russia, which worked glove in hand with a regime with the blood of millions on its hands was shocking to me. I think the modern left takes it as given, having learned the lessons the folks in this book took so hard, that such a system is ludicrous and bound to end in abuse. But the whole thing back then was so new. Most of the folks interviewed for this book joined the party before WWII; this was the era when totalitarianism was just being invented, with regimes on both sides of the political spectrum perfecting how to control, coerce, and manipulate vast numbers of people. The deep seated fear of such a society didn’t exist for many of these people at the time, because they couldn’t even conceive of it yet. To the modern reader this ignorance is almost prelapsarian in its distance from our current conception of what government and ideology is capable of. The way that many people interviewed in this book describe the feeling at the height of the American communist party sounds terribly earnest and naive to modern ears, but our ironical remove comes with the intervening historical insight and digestion.

While the modern leftist may lament that political thought has most certainly taking a cynical, ironic turn in the many years that separate us from the stories in this book, I for one think that the Communist party of that early era sounds like a nightmare, and that’s certainly the way Gornick portrays it. It’s also clear that these people were asked and were forced to give up so much for their beliefs, and while it’s unquestionably good that you can freely check out Das Kapital from the library now without fear of being blacklisted, I do think the radical imperative is lost when being a socialist is as easy as putting a rose emoji in your bio. We are free to say what we want because the people in power are no longer scared of us; whether that’s a good or a bad thing is up for debate I guess.

The best parts of this book are when Gornick speaks for herself. Maybe it’s because her viewpoint is closer to that of a reader in 2022 by mere proximity in time (although it has been 50 years), or maybe it’s because she is able to reflect on the legacy of American Communism with a healthy remove that so many of her interview subjects don’t have, blocked as they are by pride and dogma. Most of these folks, despite Gornick’s extremely flattering depiction, are just not that interesting to me; they come across as the out of touch middle aged people overly concerned with their legacy that I guess most of us are destined to become. I was struck by the fact that many of of them live in areas of the country that have in the intervening decades become hot beds of gentrification and rent hikes, which doesn’t seem like a coincidence. But it’s also because most of them are just too normal and good, I couldn’t connect with their struggle to leave the party which clearly took on outsized importance in their lives, and besides that they mostly seemed well-adjusted, well-off, and if we are to believe Gornick, mostly still really hot. The exception that proves the rule is the chapter about the Bittermans, which reads with all the complexity of character and uncanny description of a short story, and for my money, it’s the best part of the book.
… (més)
 
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hdeanfreemanjr | Hi ha 5 ressenyes més | Jan 29, 2024 |
This was a beautiful little book about friendships, aging, and life in New York City. So many little stories of connections and missed-connections or misunderstandings. I'll be reading her other memoir soon.
 
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RachelGMB | Hi ha 14 ressenyes més | Dec 27, 2023 |

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Obres
22
També de
18
Membres
2,669
Popularitat
#9,617
Valoració
3.8
Ressenyes
65
ISBN
131
Llengües
9
Preferit
2

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