Times Critics’ Top Books of 2021 – The New York Times

December 16, 2021 by No Comments

THE LOFT GENERATION: From the de Koonings to Twombly: Portraits and Sketches 1942-2011, by Edith Schloss. Edited by Mary Venturini. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux.) The German American writer and artist Edith Schloss’s memoir was discovered in rough-draft form after her death in 2011, and it’s been polished into a glowing jewel of a book. It recalls a Who’s Who of art-world characters, including Willem and Elaine de Kooning, Leo Castelli and Merce Cunningham. “All five senses are shaken awake” by the book, Jacobs wrote. “If nostalgia is a sixth and often fogging sense, it is absent in a book that feels manifestly present, clear and alive even while describing the past.”

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THE RIGHT TO SEX: Feminism in the Twenty-First Century, by Amia Srinivasan. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux.) In these rigorous essays, Amia Srinivasan wants nothing less, she writes, than “to remake the political critique of sex for the 21st century.” This is fraught terrain, and she treads it with determination and skill, writing about pornography and the internet, misogyny and violence, capitalism and incarceration. She also makes space for ambivalence, idiosyncrasy, autonomy and choice. “Srinivasan has written a compassionate book. She has also written a challenging one,” Szalai said. “She coaxes our imaginations out of the well-worn grooves of the existing order.”

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THE EMPATHY DIARIES: A Memoir, by Sherry Turkle. (Penguin Press.) In this warm, intimate memoir, the clinical psychologist Sherry Turkle writes about her childhood in postwar Brooklyn; Radcliffe and Harvard in the late 1960s, when she was an undergraduate; and Paris in the early 1970s, where she studied the work of (and got to know) the psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan. This is “a beautiful book,” Garner wrote. “It has gravity and grace; it’s as inexorable as a fable; it drills down into the things that make a life.”

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PESSOA: A Biography, by Richard Zenith. (Liveright.) Fernando Pessoa, the Portuguese poet, critic, translator, mystic and giant of modernism, published a few books that went mostly unnoticed during his lifetime. After his death in 1935, a trunk was discovered, brimming with his true life’s work, written not only by Pessoa but by a flock of his personas (he created dozens of them, including a doctor, a classicist, a bisexual poet, a monk, a lovesick teenage girl). Zenith’s book …….

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/12/15/books/critics-top-books-2021.html

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