My forthcoming essay collection, I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts (University of Minnesota Press), won’t be out until April 1, but the critical verdicts of readers who’ve received review copies are starting to come over the transom. Happily, they’re uniformly applausive (so far!).
Blogger Kate Walker led the parade with a ruminative review on her blog Notes for Headstones, citing the book’s “masterful mash-up of personal history, literary study, and philosophical rumination…”
Next up: Jim Lawrence, on his blog Words, Noises, and Other Stuff: “More relevant than Mythologies, funnier than Travels in Hyperreality, more readable than Simulacra, less gloomy than Living in the End Times, smarter than Hitchens and without the pomposity, Dery’s dazzling collection will, I unhesitatingly predict, become a classic of cultural criticism.” (Jim, my operative will be delivering a little something, in unmarked bills, in a brown paper bag, around midnight.)
Publisher’s Weekly rendered a happy verdict, too: “Always provocative, often humorous, Dery has a keen eye for absurdity, tragedy, and everything in between.”
Incredibly, Robert Fripp’s sister blogged about my book. Seriously. Yes, that Robert Fripp: King Crimson guitar-shredder, Eno collaborator, Bowie sideman, poker-faced and hyperarticulate Gurdjieffian musical mystic much given to gnomic pronouncements (“Music is the wine that fills the cup of silence,” unquote. To which I can only add: coin is the music that fills the tin cup of grub-street penury.)
“[T]hese short, sharp, well-turned pieces…will make you look at the world in a whole new and rewardingly disturbing way,” wrote book critic Deborah Sussman, in her review for the alt.newsweekly Phoenix New Times.
Josh Ozersky—Time magazine food critic, heir apparent to A.J. Leibling’s bloodspattered bib, and unreconstructed apologist for organ meats—tucked into the book with relish.
On the website Blogcritics, Jack Goodstein applauded the discursive, allusive sensibility at play in the book, noting, “[Dery] mashes phenomena together in ways that probably would never have occurred to most of us, but leaves us wondering how we missed the connections. [...] And he does it in a style that is both dense and entertaining (if such is possible).”
In the Brooklyn Rail, Orli Van Mourik judged the book “disarmingly frank and funny,” opining, “Dery cuts through the bewildering data fog we live in like no one else.”
Supervert, who is the opposite of dense and manages to be both entertaining and illuminating, posted a revealing review on his site, noting that he was heartened to discover that “so many of [his] own interests and obsessions rise from its pages — death, deviance, intellect.”
Thrillingly, SF legends William Gibson and Jack Womack Tweeted their thumbs-up on the book.
I can now die happy.
Bearded lady in a bell jar, Musee Orfila, courtesy of Paris Descartes University, © Joanna Ebenstein: all rights reserved.