Reading Style: A Life in Sentences

Paperback | September 13, 2016

byJenny Davidson

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A professor, critic, and insatiable reader, Jenny Davidson investigates the passions that drive us to fall in love with certain sentences over others and the larger implications of our relationship with writing style. At once playful and serious, immersive and analytic, her book shows how style elicits particular kinds of moral judgments and subjective preferences that turn reading into a highly personal and political act.

Melding her experiences as reader and critic, Davidson opens new vistas onto works by Jane Austen, Henry James, Marcel Proust, and Thomas Pynchon; adds richer dimension to critiques of W. G. Sebald, Alan Hollinghurst, Thomas Bernhard, and Karl Ove Knausgaard; and allows for a sophisticated appreciation of popular fictions by Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, Lionel Shriver, George Pelecanos, and Helen DeWitt. She privileges diction, syntax, point of view, and structure over plot and character, identifying the intimate mechanics that draw us in to literature's sensual frameworks and move us to feel, identify, and relate. Davidson concludes with a reading list of her favorite titles so others can share in her literary adventures and get to know better the imprint of her own reading style.

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A professor, critic, and insatiable reader, Jenny Davidson investigates the passions that drive us to fall in love with certain sentences over others and the larger implications of our relationship with writing style. At once playful and serious, immersive and analytic, her book shows how style elicits particular kinds of moral judgme...

Jenny Davidson teaches in the Department of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University. She has published two books on eighteenth-century British literature, including Breeding: A Partial History of the Eighteenth Century, and four novels. She blogs at Light Reading (jennydavidson.blogspot.com).

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:208 pages, 8.25 × 5.5 × 0.68 inPublished:September 13, 2016Publisher:Columbia University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0231168594

ISBN - 13:9780231168595

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Table of Contents

1. The Glimmer Factor: Anthony Burgess's 99 Novels2. Lord Leighton, Liberace, and the Advantages of Bad Writing: Helen DeWitt, Harry Stephen Keeler, Lionel Shriver, George Eliot3. Mouthy Pleasures and the Problem of Momentum: Gary Lutz, Lolita, Lydia Davis, Jonathan Lethem4. The Acoustical Elegance of Aphorism: Kafka, Fielding, Austen, Flaubert5. Tempo, Repetition, and a Taxonomy of Pacing: Peter Temple, Neil Gaiman, A. L. Kennedy, Edward P. Jones6. Late Style: The Golden Bowl and Swann's Way7. Disordered Sentences: Georges Perec, Roland Barthes, Wayne Koestenbaum, Luc Sante8. Details That Linger and the Charm of Voluntary Reading: George Pelecanos, Stephen King, Thomas Pynchon9. The Ideal Bookshelf: The Rings of Saturn and The Line of Beauty10. The Bind of Literature and the Bind of Life: Voices from Chernobyl, Thomas Bernhard, Karl Ove KnausgaardNotesA Reading ListIndex

Editorial Reviews

[A] delightful new book.