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Monthly Archives: September 2011

Bayard

It’s more fun to talk about Pierre Bayard’s How to Talk About Books You Haven’t Read than to actually read it. I don’t think that was his intention, but it’s appropriate. The book eventually makes a solid point, which I’ll get to in a minute. But it’s couched in a style that tries way too hard to be tongue-in-cheek and sometimes “scandalous,” a mixture that doesn’t always work. The cover, the back material, and even the translator’s introduction suggest that it will be a send-up of the cocktail-party cognoscenti with a bit of satirical “how to pretend to be intellectual” along the way. But that’s not the book’s payoff – and that disconnect between the experience of reading it and the thesis is, in a weird way, at once his best point and a refutation of the book.

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