Annotations for Falling Upwards : Essays in Defense of the Imagination
Cultural critic and essayist Siegel has published pieces in such prominent American periodicals as Harper's, The New Republic (where he is a senior editor), Time, The Atlantic, The New Yorker, and The New York Times. Here he collects 21 of those essays commenting on such diverse cultural products as the Harry Potter books, the plays of Anton Chekhov, the television shows The Sopranos and Sex and the City, Stanley Kubrick's film Eyes Wide Shut, and a biography of Saul Bellow. Throughout the essays he celebrates those works with imagination, those that display artistic authenticity and integrity, and denigrates those that are the products of an increasingly commercialized culture. His motto as a cultural critic is to "do unto art as what you would have art do unto you." Annotation ©2007 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
From renowned critic Lee Siegel--hailed as a model of "original thinking and passionate writing"--a sometimes scathing, always thrilling examination of the state of contemporary art and culture, and beyond
Sex and the City, Saul Bellow, Eyes Wide Shut, Dante and the American self, Barbara Kingsolver, acting in Hollywood, Soviet painting in Soho, Angels in America, Jane Austen in the present, J.K. Rowling--nothing escapes Lee Siegel's incandescent eye. Siegel possesses an intellectual range and independent perspective unmatched by his peers, and Falling Upwards brings together the best of his essays, all of them rich with the trades mark wit and intelligence that have won him many friends and a few enemies. In these essential writings, Siegel deftly uses the occasion of a book, film, painting, or television show not merely to appraise it, but to make sense of life in a way that is more defiant of impoverished cultural "norms" than most contemporary artistic expression. Guided by the belief that a calculating self-interest in art-making diminishes the prospects for the imagination in life, Siegel celebrates authentic sensibilities and lambasts manufactured sentiments. With uncanny insight, yet also with incomparable logic and analytical rigor, he has invented a new idiom in which the language of criticism embodies the playful, creative, synthesizing power that has been largely abdicated by the arts in our time. In writing about works of culture, Siegel has created a standard by which to judge them.