Follow the Reader
Simon Van Booy
Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them
by Elif Batuman
$15.00 List Price
The most gifted essayists are often just brilliant storytellers. Such is the case with Elif Batuman in her debut collection, The Possessed. A teacher at Stanford University, she has published some of this work in the New Yorker, n+1, and Harper's. Rather boldly for a tyro essayist, Batuman employs a first-person style, enriched with dialogue, characters, superb pacing, and sizzling rhetoric. It's easy to imagine what a sharp and engaging lecturer she is—if, as her introduction has it, she has indeed "stopped believing that 'theory' had the power to ruin literature for anyone, or that it was possible to compromise something you loved by studying it.… Wasn't the point of love that it made you want to learn more, to immerse yourself, to become possessed?"
Batuman is possessed, not only by Russian literature but by
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