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Bound to Please: An Extraordinary One-Volume…
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Bound to Please: An Extraordinary One-Volume Literary Education (edition 2004)

by Michael Dirda

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Member:KrisR
Title:Bound to Please: An Extraordinary One-Volume Literary Education
Authors:Michael Dirda
Info:W. W. Norton & Company (2004), Hardcover, 560 pages
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Bound to Please: An Extraordinary One-Volume Literary Education by Michael Dirda

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Dirda, a book reviewer for the Washington Post, writes a great review, just the right length and very enticing. There were reviews of many books I was unfamiliar with, as well as some old favorites. ( )
  gbelik | Nov 17, 2017 |
I hesitate before reading a Michael Dirda collection, because I know I'll end up adding another 20 books to my reading list by the time I've finished. Indeed, every review seems to be of something I'd like to read. And dirda is not a snob; his science fiction recommendation list looks pretty good to me, and he's a fan of Dunsany and Lovecraft. But now, thanks to him, I'm very keen to read Beckett novels, Djuna Barnes, Avram Davidson, Sebald, Dawn Powell, and a biography of Algernon Blackwood. For starters. ( )
  adzebill | Nov 17, 2011 |
Essays on Great Writers on Their Books--Author is with the Washington Post. Very erudite essays and a vast collection on a variety of authors ( )
  AnneliM | May 10, 2009 |
Reviews that inspire you to read better books - and more. I used to read Dirda's reviews in the Washington Post back when I lived in Maryland, before I moved to the Michigan hinterlands where, it seems, very few people read at all. Not long after I arrived here in the north country I read Dirda's memoir of growing up in Ohio (An Open Book), a book which explains plainly and often humorously why he has this love affair with books - all books, both great and small. I enjoyed Mike's memoir so much that I moved on to these collected reviews. I've had Bound to Please for close to a year now and I'm still making my way through it. Reading these erudite reviews of books, many of which I have never read and perhaps never will, is a kind of education in itself. It is a humbling experience to see how Dirda absorbs, understands and then explains books about the Bible, Ovid, Rilke, Herodotus, Trollope, Flaubert, Proust, Shaw, Housman, etc. - the list seems endless. And he progresses from the classics of western civilization on to more contemporary writers like Updike, DeLillo, Gaddis, Gass, Colette, Amis, Byatt, and even Edgar Rice Burroughs. Reading Dirda on writing and writers is like listening to a favorite lecturer, and I'm over forty years past my last college classroom. He almost makes me want to go back and start over. But perhaps I'll just use these essays as a starting point and try to make time to go back and either re-read or read for the first time all those important writers I've already enjoyed or have only heard of. I keep this book handy to take with me to the bathroom. It's always nice to learn something while taking care of baser bodily business. Thank you for sharing your erudition and opinions, Mr. Dirda. ( )
3 vote TimBazzett | Apr 30, 2009 |
Michael Dirda is my favorite literary critic. He has a wonderful way of describing books that I like to refer to as the "Commas of Intrigue." When writing a review, he'll group together various things from a book that make it sound irresistible. For example, if he was reviewing The Bible, he'd say something like this: "It's a book full of secret betrayals, of a man who can raise the dead...of rivers of blood, swarms of insects, and magical weapons; it is a book of harlots and kings and peasants..." and make the book sound just amazing. I may sound like I'm criticizing this method, but really I admire it as a way to convey how exciting and wonderful he finds a certain book.

In fact, I think that I've discovered more great books by reading Bound to Please--along with its sequel, [Classics for Pleasure], in which Dirda writes about neglected books he thinks everyone should read and enjoy--than by any sort of "Modern Library 20th Century Best" list. Georgette Heyer, Ronald Firbank, Raymond Chandler, Oscar Wilde, Sheridan Le Fanu, Vernon Lee, and Anthony Burgess are just a few of the authors rendered ultra-compelling via Mr. Dirda's pen. Not to mention the fact he covers such books as The Letters of Nancy Mitford and Evelyn Waugh, A Dead Man in Deptford, The Manuscript Found in the Sargasso, and The Civilzation of the Renaissance. Dirda seems to be a true expert on British mystery and golden age horror books, and to recognize that the best criticism doesn't cling to theory and diagram, but rather discusses the points and the questions raised by the literature, is a nice cool literary breeze.

In a time when literary criticism is being locked away in the narrow fluorescence of academia, and professors (to paraphrase Gore Vidal) cling desperately to figures and formulae in emulation of their "serious" rivals in Physics and Chemistry (words having failed them yet again), men like Michael Dirda (and Harold Bloom, and Edmund Wilson, and Gore Vidal) should be read by those who want to learn to write well about Those That Write Well. ( )
4 vote uncultured | Jun 27, 2008 |
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Epigraph
What should we be without the sexual myth,
The human revery or poem of death?

Castratos of moon-mash---Life consists of
Propositions about life.

---Wallace Stevens
from "Men Made Out of Words"
Dedication
For my colleagues, past and present,
at The Washington Post Book World
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0393057577, Hardcover)

A showcase of one hundred of the world's most astonishing books, Bound to Please is an extraordinary one-volume literary education.

Among the most enjoyable of literary critics, Michael Dirda combines erudition with enthusiasm, a taste for the outré and the forgotten, and a playful, understated wit. Like George Orwell or Gore Vidal, Dirda delights in popular genres, such as the detective novel and the ghost story, without neglecting the deeper satisfactions of sometimes-overlooked classics. This new work features scores of Dirda's most engaging essays, never previously collected in book form, all intended to introduce readers to wonderful writers, from the anecdotal Herodotus and James Boswell to the sensuous Colette and Steven Millhauser to such European masters as Joseph Roth, Flann O'Brien, and Penelope Fitzgerald. With his trademark enthusiasm, Dirda also explores The Arabian Nights, the spaghetti westerns of Sergio Leone, the crime novels of Chester Himes and K. C. Constantine, and the worlds of Tarzan, Cormac McCarthy, and Proust. Bound to Please is a glorious celebration of just how much fun reading can be.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:57:51 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Surveying the whole world of books, literary essayist Dirda opens with an impassioned critique of modern reading habits, then presents many of the great, and idiosyncratic, writers he loves the most. He starts with ancient classics and ends with groundbreaking science fiction; in between, he writes about everything from Renaissance intellectual history and Russian literary theory to spaghetti westerns and neglected modern masters.--From publisher description.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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W.W. Norton

2 editions of this book were published by W.W. Norton.

Editions: 0393057577, 0393329631

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