More Collected Couteau. Essays and Interviews
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About the Author
Couteau's essays are informal, fervent, and well-versed examinations of the work or author at hand. At their best, they include fascinating insights into the significance of a writer like [Hubert] Selby.... The interviews are uniformly strong and include conversations with Michael Korda on T.E. Lawrence, Justin Kaplan on Walt Whitman, and Robert Roper on Vladimir Nabokov. Not all of them focus on literature: author Jeffrey Jackson covers the 1910 flood of Paris and why it's relatively forgotten; and Robert De Sena, in one of the best interviews, discusses his life as a gang member turned community activist. Couteau's passion and wealth of knowledge are obvious throughout the book ... and should appeal to many readers. - Publishers Weekly Select.
The 'Renaissance Man' is a multi-faceted individual whose fingers are in just about every pie you could imagine, fostering a variety of abilities and mastering many quite well. His expertise is wide-ranging and there's seemingly no limit to his subject, as is demonstrated in More Collected Couteau: Essays and Interviews, which gathers Couteau's insights and encounters with a diverse range of individuals... The joy of reading Couteau lies as much in his penetrating, crystalline language as it does in the works or figures being examined, and so readers receive a wide-ranging treat that examines victims, vengeance, mortality and immortality through an inspection process that educates even those unfamiliar with the subject.... After proving his prowess at the essay form, he turns to the heart of the collection: its interviews. These range from discussions with Albert Hoffman (activist and the discoverer of LSD) to interviews with literary figures such as historian and cultural commentator Robert Roper or poet Christopher Sawyer-Lauçanno. One of the pleasures in this collection is that readers needn't have prior familiarity with the writers' works. Couteau provides that familiarity by the structure of his interview questions, which probe the foundation beliefs of each figure.... From the possibility that Nabokov suffered unconscious doubts about his own value that led him to insist that the world acknowledge him as a genius to the underlying patriotism of counterculture icons who were commonly seen as rebels ... both essays and interviews are designed to make readers think about underlying psychology, social perceptions, and cultural change. Readers seeking not just a literary presentation but a lively analysis of selected wordsmiths and their lives and influences must add More Collected Couteau to their reading lists. It's a powerful presentation that offers much insight and food for thought, and which should find its way into many a college classroom as well. - Diane Donovan, Midwest Book Review.