The bagel-chewiness of these essays kept me at them for a while, one or two a day was plenty – but unsurprisingly it increased the already throbbing cerebral horn I have for Schjeldahl’s prose.
He isn’t afraid of the purple, if something has really inspired him he’s off in a tizz of jangling sensational claims. The writing isn’t cool, it’s opinionated and at times, piss-funny.
An ideal combination of high and low registers, his essays sometimes felt like a satire on all that worthy, snoring art-writing that academia specialises in producing. It’s zestiness points towards a Mennipean spirit.
It also pointed me towards the work of modern American artists, painters in particular, whose work I barely knew. Country libraries don’t oblige me with monographs on them, but I have a good shopping list for the f800s next time I’m at a Uni library, or fall into a vat of money and can buy books.
He can be an utter bitch too, while nicely justifying why he’s sharpening his critical knives.
I want to quote extensively my favorite bits in this review, but instead, just get out and read it. Go on.