My 1980s and Other Essays

My s and Other Essays Wayne Koestenbaum returns with a zesty and hyper literate collection of personal and critical essaysWayne Koestenbaum has been described as an impossible lovechild from a late night drunken three way

  • Title: My 1980s and Other Essays
  • Author: Wayne Koestenbaum
  • ISBN: 9780374709761
  • Page: 273
  • Format: ebook
  • Wayne Koestenbaum returns with a zesty and hyper literate collection of personal and critical essaysWayne Koestenbaum has been described as an impossible lovechild from a late night, drunken three way between Joan Didion, Roland Barthes, and Susan Sontag Bidoun In My 1980s and Other Essays, a collection of extravagant range and style, he rises to the challenge of thatWayne Koestenbaum returns with a zesty and hyper literate collection of personal and critical essaysWayne Koestenbaum has been described as an impossible lovechild from a late night, drunken three way between Joan Didion, Roland Barthes, and Susan Sontag Bidoun In My 1980s and Other Essays, a collection of extravagant range and style, he rises to the challenge of that improbable description.My 1980s and Other Essays opens with a series of manifestos or, perhaps appropriately, a series of impassioned disclosures, intellectual and personal It then proceeds to wrestle with a series of major cultural figures, the author s own lodestars and lodestones literary John Ashbery, Roberto Bola o, James Schuyler , artistic Diane Arbus, Cindy Sherman, Andy Warhol , and simply iconic Brigitte Bardot, Cary Grant, Lana Turner And then there is the personal the voice, the style, the flair that is unquestionably Koestenbaum It amounts to a kind of intellectual autobiography that culminates in a string of passionate calls to creativity arguments in favor of detail and nuance, and attention a defense of pleasure, hunger, and desire in culture and experience Koestenbaum is perched on the cusp of being a true public intellectual his venues are mainstream than academic, his style is eye catching, his prose unfailingly witty and passionate, his interests profoundly wide ranging and popular My 1980s should be the book that pushes Koestenbaum off that cusp and truly into the public eye.

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    About “Wayne Koestenbaum

    • Wayne Koestenbaum

      In addition to Hotel Theory Soft Skull, 2007 , Wayne Koestenbaum has published five books of nonfiction prose Andy Warhol, Cleavage, Jackie Under My Skin, The Queens Throat a National Book Critics Circle Award finalist , and Double Talk He has also published a novel, Moira Orfei in Aigues Mortes, and five books of poetry Best Selling Jewish Porn Films, Model Homes, The Milk of Inquiry, Rhapsodies of a Repeat Offender, and Ode to Anna Moffo and Other Poems He wrote the libretto for an opera, Jackie O music by Michael Daugherty His essays and poetry have appeared in such anthologies as The Best American Essays, The Best American Poetry, and The Art of the Essay, and in such magazines as The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, Harpers, Artforum, and The Paris Review In 2002, Koestenbaum was elected as a member of the PEN American Centers Board of Trustees He received his B.A from Harvard, his M.A in Creative Writing from Johns Hopkins, and his Ph.D in English from Princeton He is a Distinguished Professor of English at the CUNY Graduate Center as well as currently a Visiting Professor in the painting department of the Yale School of Art.



    259 thoughts on “My 1980s and Other Essays

    • Koestenbaum, essayist and poet, wears his influences on his sleeve. As an essayist, his primary influences are Susan Sontag (mentioned in several essays, but especially "Susan Sontag, Cosmophage", written shortly after Sontag's death in 2004) and Roland Barthes (mentioned in almost as many essays as Sontag, but especially "In Defense of Nuance").Susan Sontag, my prose's prime mover, ate the world. In 1963, on the subject of Sartre's Saint Genet (her finest ideas occasionally hinged on gay men), [...]


    • Maybe more like 2.5 stars, but not three. I've been a real fan of Wayne Koestenbaum's since "The Queen's Throat" in the early/mid 1990s (and "Jackie Under My Skin," "Hotel Theory," and "Humiliation"), for both his style and in substance. So I'm sorry to say that "My 1980s and Other Essays" was a disappointment for me, mainly because of my expectations. (Koestenbaum? On the '80s? Step right up!) There are 39 pieces collected here, written by Koestenbaum during the 1990s, 2000s and early '10s, mos [...]


    • Wayne Kostenbaum wrote the best book on Andy Warhol, which is a pretty good thing because there are a lot of good Warhol books out there - but he was the first one who wrote the book regarding Warhol's sexuality and how that affected his art and his world. At the time I found that fascinating. And I am sure there were other books that touched on Warhol's queerness, but the Kostenbaum critique and study was the one for me that was an "ah ha" moment."My 1980'S & Other Essays" is his first coll [...]


    • This is portraiture through reviewing, through meditation, and much like Dave Hickey's collection, Air Guitar, this collection hits on all the author's major influences (Roland Barthes, James Schuyler, Susan Sontag, pornography, photography, Abstract Expressionism, opera, 1950's film). Koestenbaum's "all-over painting" format (most essays sliced with numbers or section dots) allows the essays to accumulate ideas, to be mediations rather than proofs. Koestenbaum looks at his subject matter from e [...]


    • Scattered letters on various subjects. Koestenbaum is (to me) not immediately likable, but — this is important — he discusses subjects close to my heart (see The Queen's Throat, his meditation on gay men & opera). You must get over the idea that these writings are self-indulgent. They are, but that is because they are personal. It satisfies like a good after-dinner conversation.


    • I forgot writing like this still exists; transported back to being in college, the tiny blip in my life when I read seriously about art and started to understand the way in which scholarship that isn't scientific welcomes the personal; still confuses the hell out of me. Feels sillily 4th level recursive to comment on it any further (some of it a writer commenting on another writer's comments on a painting, for example).



    • Despite the fact that it feels overlong and that several essays did not hold my attention, there's a wealth of great work here. More than any individual piece, it is the sense of self-examination that I take away from this collection - a sense that I, as a reader and a writer, must be able to consciously understand the way that I synthesize my cultural influences. So often we just let them affect us - but it can not only show us something about ourselves but it can, I daresay, make us better con [...]


    • This is my first time reading Koestenbaum, and from the reviews saying it isn't up to snuff, I'm glad I started here. The essay on Lana Turner, a piece I'd been looking forward to, does go a bit overboard, undermining Cheryl Crane's queerness in the service of lurid speculations about Johnny Stompanato's oscar, but the descriptions of Deborah Harry's "Lancelot voice," and Blossom Dearie, who "gave it less in order to give it (secretly) more" are so spot on and gorgeous, you'll hear them as you t [...]


    • I read it prematurely. I could not keep up with him. You can hear the obsessiveness in his writing. The photo of Debbie Harry on the front is perfect. So are his obsessions and observations. I am really in a rut with reading. No book begs to be read. I'm sad and also bored but it's been since seventh grade.


    • The banal, hyper-literate, and celebrities experiences of Mr. Koestenbaum are endless. Endlessly fascinating, frustrating, brief, and delicious. These essays invite higher learning, voyeurism, fetish, and detachment.


    • Either the majority of these essays read like watered-down Wayne Koestenbaum or I'm simply just getting tired of Wayne Koestenbaum.


    • "I don't want to brag about my hypersusceptibility to purple and to orange, but I didn't survive the twentieth century to lie to you about my clandestine relationship to color."


    • finished in a post-twenty-one-hour all-nighter daze, distracted by how perfectly the cover and the quimby's bookmark i was using (found and taken from a graphic novel in powell's) matched with the fabiana's bundt cake i was eating on a blue-and-white china plate. it was almost unbearably charming, alliterated, arranged, which is sort of you feel after reading a lot of wayne koestenbaum at once. which is, like, fine! if you're reading koestenbaum without making peace that his work is like entirel [...]


    • Damn I liked this a lot. My favorite essay is definitely Fag Limbo. It felt almost like a love letter I didn't expect at all but was so glad to receive. Also, another thing I liked was how Wayne talks about porn as comfort. How he has warm and cozy feelings about the performers and models of his youth and present. This is something I've always related to and wanted to write about for such a long time and Wayne here gave me permission. So that's something really cool I'll always remember about re [...]


    • everything is important/meaningful even if you're not sure why, there is at least 5 essays in this book that focus on Lana Turner, maybe even just her hair, and some of my favourite people like Roland Barthes and Debbie Harry, as well as taking markers of queer culture like passing and using them as a structure for cultural analysis. The best essay concerns my number one girl, Susan Sontag, whom Koestenbaum calls a “cosmophage,” or someone committed to “eating” the world by experiencing [...]


    • Too erudite. I quite enjoy criticism, however, Koestenbaum dredges up the dustiest words in his vocabulary and thus causes his already opaque points of reference to founder under the heavy pages of the dictionary to which you'll inevitably be clinging to for dear life. "The Unbearable Blightness of Mick Jagger's Nipple Hair, as Understood Through the Taxonomy of Susan Sontag's Theory of Photography." All right, I get it man, you're smarter than me, you happy now?




    • It's pretty much the pretentious ramblings of an affluent white man I've never read any of his other work/am not familiar with him in the slightest, and that may have affected the lens in which I read this collection of essays.


    • can't get over how excited i was to finally find a critical theory fangirl in a world of critical theory fuckheads. really, some of these essays could just have been titled "OMG SONTAG!!!", "BARTHES 4EVR!!!", "EVE SEDGEWICK : :-D". most people who drop names like this can't convince me they've read past the introductions - and almost nobody focuses on the giddy pleasure of how these writers reorient the world of art and ideas into a more explorable, less easily explainable place. kostenbaum's ap [...]


    • It’s the Warhol Polaroid of Debbie Harry on the cover that got me. It reminds me of my 1980s, too. There’s something about the style. It’s hard to see when you’re embedded in it, but with time it solidifies into something distinct. Probably because I forgot the stuff that doesn’t fit. Wayne Koestenbaum finds a way to fit a lot in MY 1980s AND OTHER ESSAYS, which isn’t really about a decade, but collects the more recent nonfiction writings by the poet and critic on an array of topics [...]


    • I bought this book impulsively on over a year ago. When I started reading it this summer I knew it would be an occasional book for me. Koestenbaum is a wonderfully quirky writer. He has perspectives and insights that are funny, disturbing, and often quite moving. The personal essays and ones on poetry and writing were easy to connect with, but at least half of the book collects the author's art criticism. He also writes frequently about opera. Many of these essays were extremely interesting, bu [...]


    • I recently discovered this author and I love him. He writes sort of cultural criticism but his use of language is so precisely perfect and he's extremely funny. I esp liked the essays on Lana turner, Susan Sontag, Debbie Harry, Cindy Sherman, Andy Warhol and Diane Arbus. He's an intellectual who analyzes pop culture among lots of other stuff--including poetry, classical music and other writers. I didn't rate it higher only because about a third if these essays concern material I have no knowledg [...]


    • Idea-wise, this is definitely Wayne Koestenbaum lite. It's also really scattered thematically; the only strong section was Part IV, with its impressionistic close readings of various works of art.The most maddening part of this book, however, is that it has NOTHING to do with the 80s. The essays were nearly all written in the 2000s, and there are barely even glancing mentions of the decade -- except the titular opening essay, which is basically just a really hipster diary entry.


    • I love some of Koestenbaum's older books so much that I still compulsively buy everything he writes. I think this is maybe where I finally get off the train, because while there are some amazing pieces here (i.e his memorial to Sontag), there is just so much that seems like it could have been markedly better with tighter editing. Like the Ryan Trecartin piece starts out so sharp but then it just goes on and on.


    • FINALLY finished reading this. I'm SOO rusty with theory and criticism since college even if it is on the light side. Gave me a lot to think about, pay attention to, or simply be dismissive of/distracted by re: my own writing or cultural consumption. Koestenbaum is a very stylish writer.


    • Koestenbaum is a skilled storyteller and essayist, and I appreciate his style. I don't think I'll be looking for more of his work, though--I flipped through this collection but never really got caught up in it.


    • Can't get through this one. Too dry - interesting concept told in the most un-interesting fashion I just couldn't bring myself to enjoy it at all. I have never just given up on a bookis is my 1st to abandon.


    • Susan Sontag, John Ashbury, Cindy Sherman, Lana Turner and Roland Barthes are just a few of the subjects in the many short essays collected here. Very academic, queer, intellectual and NYC in tone and perspective. Sprinkled with gold.


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