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The American Scholar - Volume 73 Number 3

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  • Issue Number: Volume 73 Number 3

Summer 2004

The American Scholar deserves applause for providing a loving home for the personal essay, a wonderfully egalitarian and pliant form that adjusts itself to any voice or subject matter, however refined or rough-hewn, fact-enamored or fanciful. In this issue, James Joyce lovers will find much to rejoice about in Sam Anderson’s “Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Joyce,” a boisterous, language-soused co-romp through Joyce’s (yep, it’s still his!) Dublin and Anderson’s (exhilarating/tortured) reading of Ulysses (“Why does he write, in a work of fiction, a parody of the historical development of English prose style? What had I done to upset him?”). Lydia Davis shares her technique for really learning Spanish in “Reading Aventuras de Tom Sawyer.” Hint: no dictionary is involved. Ben Yagoda’s “Heavy Meta” is an enjoyable riff on pop music’s self-referential qualities, both reflexive (James Taylor’s “Hey Mister, That’s Me Up On the Jukebox,” or “Hey, hey, we’re the Monkees”) and intertextual, meaning that the lyrics mention other songs or singers (the Boss’s “Roy Orbison sang for the lonely” or the Dixie Chicks’ country song about country music “Long Time Gone”: “Now they sound tired but they don’t sound Haggard / They’ve got money but they don’t have Cash. / They got Junior but they don’t have Hank”). [“I thank, I thank, I thank!”] A shout out for The American Scholar, ever curious (about everything), always leaving a light on for the individual voice. (One last hint: animal lovers may want to skip the poem “Live Lobster Sashimi.”) [The American Scholar, The Phi Beta Kappa Society, 1606 New Hampshire Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20009. E-mail: . Single issue $9. http://www.pbk.org/pubs/amscholar.htm] – AS

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Review Posted on July 31, 2004
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