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Sontag and Kael

Opposites Attract Me

List Price: $14.95

June 14, 2005 | Paperback | 5.5 x 8, 256 Pages | ISBN 9781582433127
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"Seligman's openness and fluency take us to a place we couldn't have reached without him." —New York Times Book Review

This is a witty and stylish assessment of the work of two icons of cultural criticism: Susan Sontag and Pauline Kael. Though outwardly they had some things in common — they were both Westerners who came east, both schooled in philosophy, both secular Jews and both single mothers — they were polar opposites in temperament and approach. Seligman approaches both women through their widely discussed work. Kael practiced a kind of verbal jazz — exuberant, excessive, intimate, emotional and funny. Sontag is formal and rather icy. From the beginning it’s clear where Seligman’s sympathies lie: Sontag is a critic he reveres; but Kael is a critic he loves. But for all his reservations about Sontag, he considers both writers magnificent and his exploration of their differences results in this luminously written landmark of criticism.
About Craig Seligman

CRAIG SELIGMAN was born in Louisiana and educated at Stanford and Oxford. He has been an editor of The New Yorker, Food & Wine (executive editor), and (books editor) and has written criticism for the San Francisco Examiner (where he was a staff film and book critic in the 1980’s), The New Yorker, Salon, The New Republic, The Threepenny Review, the Village Voice, Artforum, Bookforum, and the New York Times Book Review (where he remains a frequent contributor). He lives in Brooklyn with his partner Silvana Nova.


“Seligman’s openness and fluency take us to a place we couldn’t have reached without him.” —New York Times Book Review

“Seligman is smart, gracious, and so good a writer.” —Atlantic Monthly

“Delightful.” —Washington Post Book World

“The sassiest, classiest work of popular criticism since Nick Hornby’s Songbook.” —San Francisco Chronicle

“Playful and passionate, [Seligman] sets dozens of ideas spinning.” —Village Voice

“…[A] dazzling performance of close reading in which he so vigorously parses each critic’s style, ideas, temperament, politics, and emotional valence it’s almost as though he’s broadcasting color at a boxing match… Seligman’s brilliant and far-ranging critique of two paradigm-altering critics inspires the reader to think hard about art’s place in life and criticism’s role in culture, and to renew delight in blazingly bold interpretative writing.” —Booklist


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