Whether he is writing about high art or pop culture, Alex Abramovich's real subject is our yearning for genuine communication in an inauthentic age. In the tradition of Dwight Macdonald, he examines the whole culture with an acute sense of where it lives, and where it is dying. He finds the symptoms of our trouble in the decline of romantic comedy and of the New Yorker magazine, and the cure in the courageous art of David Foster Wallace and Radiohead. He asks how rock musicians fit so much feeling into the simplest clichés, defends jazz against Ken Burnss Jazz, and shows how todays gangsta rappers resemble yesterday's bluesmen. Cinderella Story takes on all these icons and more, from Eminem and Elvis Presley to Woody Allen and Isaac Babel. It ends with a moving, first-person account of New York City after September 11, 2001.
Maybe in this time of somewhat false and strangely vast intimacy what we need are some truly private intellectuals, people with very particular passions who can express them unencumbered by the weight of recommendation. Abramovich brings a necessary desperation to much of his writing, a sense that certain things must be said, that there is, indeed, a fire in the theater, or more likely a deluge. But ultimately he is less concerned with denouncing the impostors, the enemies of feeling, than he is with expanding our experience of the exceptions. At heart he is a celebrant, a tough act in an era so geared for the take-down, the write-off, the easy dismissal. Abramovich is that rare critic who can set himself aside enough to see what he seeing. Rare too, is the grace and energy of his prose and the often startling power of his imagery. When you get to the part about loneliness and sleeplessness, or the bit about The Stooges and your mother’s gun, you’ll know exactly what I mean. - from the Preface, by Sam Lipsyte
Alex Abramovich was born in Moscow in the winter of 1972. His parents were Russian dissidents. Growing up in the States, he says, the things I did seemed less important in light of important things they'd done. In my adopted country, too, culture seems to be under constant attack and, if the forces are different, the attacks incomparably milder, and the slow rot harder to spot, it's also true that protest is easy, and apathy even less defensible. Most of the pieces here were written because I thought I'd glimpsed something wrong with my world, and I wanted to make some small gesture towards fixing it. Abramovich has worked for the New Yorker magazine and served as culture editor of Feed. His writings have appeared in Slate, the Village Voice, Entertainment Weekly, the Washington Post, and the New York Times Book Review. He is working on his next book, a history of rock music, for Nan A. Talese/Doubleday.
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