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Only Love Can Break Your Heart

List Price: $16.95

May 26, 2009 | Paperback |  5.5 x 8, 400 Pages | ISBN 9781582435039
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“The portraits that emerge are exhaustive and often severe, but there is something delicate in Samuels’s method. In his stories the random flow of events takes on a real meaning, allowing us to see what’s hidden in plain view and to hear what isn’t being said.” —New York Times Book Review

In Only Love Can Break Your Heart, David Samuels writes with a reportorial acumen and stylistic flair that recall the pioneering New Journalism of Gay Talese, Tom Wolfe, and Joan Didion. Combining elegant, nuanced personal essays with far-out reporting — on the lives of radicals in the Pacific Northwest, anti-abortion zealots, demolition experts, suburban hip-hop stars, and more — Samuels shows us an American landscape whose unsettling mix of profound dislocations and blue-sky optimism is both instantly recognizable and thrillingly new.

The collection is anchored by Samuels’s funny, wildly inventive accounts of “big events” like Woodstock ‘99, Donald Rumsfeld’s press conferences at the Pentagon, a George Bush fundraiser at a mall in Texas, and Super Bowl XL in Detroit. These essays display his unusual sensitivity to both the tragic and comic dissonances that bubble up from the gap between the American promise of endless nirvana and the lives of salesman, dreamers, aging baseball legends, billionaire crackpots, atomic test site workers, and dog track bettors who struggle to live out their dreams one day at a time.

About David Samuels

DAVID SAMUELS is a contributing editor at Harper’s Magazine and a frequent contributor to The New Yorker and the Atlantic Monthly. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and son.

Praise

“Staggering… alluring… rich with conversation, color and conflict; he immerses himself in a place and characterizes its mood. This explains why one doesn’t find anywhere in his writing the false notes of intimacy that litter the pages of magazines, those sentences in which a reporter drops the name of the hip restaurant where an interview occurred over a lunch of Kobe beef and wild mushroom martinis, or treats the contents of a handbag or an iPod as a window into a subject’s soul.” —The Nation

“Samuels deftly covered Woodstock 1999, Super Bowl XL and Donald Rumsfeld’s news conferences at the Pentagon, among other surreal events, with an eye for the disconnect between an ideal and what actually happens. His preface mourns the slow death print magazines are facing, but the collection shows how much life he found in long-form journalism.” —Associated Press

“A tribute to the twin American traditions of self-invention and self-deceit… The portraits that emerge are exhaustive and often severe, but there is something delicate in Samuels’s method. In his stories the random flow of events takes on a real meaning, allowing us to see what’s hidden in plain view and to hear what isn’t being said.” —New York Times Book Review

“Samuels has a wonderful feeling for the weirdness and truths of self-contained worlds… Joseph Mitchell-meets-Elmore Leonard.” —Los Angeles Times

“With an intelligence and unsparing lucidity reminiscent of Joan Didion’s work circa Slouching Towards Bethlehem (1968), Mr. Samuels has written some of the best long-form literary journalism of the past decade.” —New York Observer

“[Samuels is] a savant when it comes to scene reporting and has a nearly autistic command of minor details and facts. Armed with minutiae, he achieves the glorious breadth and detail of a mural painter.” —Village Voice

“From his disillusioned take on the greedy capitalism marring Woodstock ’99 to the colorful profiles of a rag-tag group of radicals from Eugene, Oregon, Samuels is acutely aware of the chasm between idealistic aspirations and more mundane reality… And it is in his profiles of and musings on musicians—rap producer Prince Paul, Detroit native son Stevie Wonder—that Samuels’ writing is at its richest.” —Booklist

“Behind the scenes at such places as the Sedan Crater nuclear test site; the anti-globalization Mecca of Eugene, Ore.; and Super Bowl XL with Stevie Wonder, Samuels’s reportage is at its best. He wryly flays false constructions of American reality on the right, left and places in between.” —Publishers Weekly Starred Review

“In his engaging preface, Samuels intimates that this may be his swan song as a magazine writer. Say it ain’t so, David! What would we do without your smart, stylish, warm, funny, sad, compassionate, distinctive, and utterly unforgettable voice?” —Anne Fadiman, author of At Large and At Small

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