What is a Book? (Paperback)David Kirby (author)
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Publisher: University of Georgia Press
Number of pages: 232
Weight: 313 g
Dimensions: 216 x 140 x 18 mm
Those of us who have been saving old magazines and newspapers with David Kirby's essays and reviews can start clearing out the attic. Kirby's unique combination of learning, wisdom, and the whole range of humor from the sly smile to the belly laugh is even more gratifying and pleasurable when his articles are collected in a single volume than when encountered one by one. Through his readings of two centuries of American fiction, poetry, and criticism, Kirby answers his own question, 'What is a book?, ' with a nuanced, comic, and profound account of what it means to be human.--Edward Mendelson "author of Early Auden and Later Auden "
Kirby's book is full of interesting principles, hard-earned on the front lines of academia.--Los Angeles Times Book Review
Rather than taking on the book's physicality, David Kirby uses lists of favorites to answer the question What Is a Book? in the title piece from his new collection of critical essays. Kirby finds that for most people 'what counts is the personhood, not of the author, but of the book'--that novels can contain, and become, the most reliable figures of our lives. Others among the 17 essays here wonder "Is There a Southern Poetry?" and "What Is a Critic?," and come up with equally thoughtful responses.--Publishers Weekly
Academically rigorous yet emotionally vigorous, these essays hit the right tone to interest general readers as well as specialists. Kirby's well-oxygenated prose ultimately clears our heads for good reading, brightening our understanding of why literature matters.--The Tennessean
Kirby's writing has flair and humor. He'll remind you of the best English teacher you ever had, if you were lucky enough to have a good one.--Minneapolis Star Tribune
After What Is a Book?, the study of a work of literature seems to me refreshed again, relevant, and full of pleasure; and the practice of writing about literature seems again public, useful, and productive. David Kirby's scholarship is impeccable, and his writing is smart, distinctively witty, and precise. I want to cheer.--David Baker "poetry editor of the Kenyon Review and Thomas B. Fordham Chair of Creative Writing, Denison University "
Gifted with a fluid historical sensibility and a quintessentially American openmindedness, Kirby writes with nimbleness and precision about Melville and James, Charles Wright and Richard Howard, and children who love to be read to. . . . Anchored by four sparkling "what is" inquiries into the nature of the reader, the writer, the book, and the critic, this altogether enjoyable, enlightening, and reassuringly human collection radiantly celebrates our unceasing love and need for books.--Booklist
Kirby has gathered 17 essays so clear, so relevant, and far-reaching as to address all the major working parts of literature. Refreshingly witty, beautifully written, and accessible essays on topics that illustrate the nature of each of these "players" in the literary enterprise. An important and useful book that is also surprisingly pleasurable and entertaining to read; highly recommended.--Library Journal (starred review)
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