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Maureen Corrigan on Michelle Dean’s Sharp

Michelle Dean’s Sharp: The Women Who Made an Art of Having an Opinion is the book many of us have been waiting for. It is, as Maureen Corrigan writes in her review of the book in The Wall Street Journal:

“[A]n entertaining and erudite cultural history of selected female thinkers who ‘came up in a world that was not eager to hear women’s opinions about anything.’”

“There’s so much…to savor, ruminate on, learn from and, certainly, argue with in this splendid book,” she continues. “Sharp embodies the work of its subjects and manages the difficult intellectual and narrative feat of linking a bunch of disparate women writers, not via their topical interests, but by their sensibility: that of writers, with one foot in the mainstream of the American intellectual culture that men made, and one foot outside, sometimes by their own decision, and sometimes not. And each one of them, in this wonderful telling, is very much an intellectual and a writer to be heard.”

Click here to Maureen Corrigan’s full review. [paywalled]

Mixing biography, literary criticism, and cultural history, Dean’s book celebrates ten women—Dorothy Parker, Rebecca West, Hannah Arendt, Mary McCarthy, Susan Sontag, Pauline Kael, Joan Didion, Nora Ephron, Renata Adler, and Janet Malcolm—who are united by what the author calls “sharpness,” the ability to cut to the quick with precision of thought and wit.

We’re thrilled that magazines and newspapers are as excited about it as we are. For example, Kate Tuttle, in her Los Angeles Times review, called Sharp: 

“[A] timely new book . . . consistently entertaining and often truly provocative — especially for anyone who makes or loves art or literature . . . urgent in its own right.”

We couldn’t agree more.

And further, in the last few weeks Dean has had essays published in the Los Angeles Times (“Who are you calling a ‘second-wave feminist’?”) and the New York Times (“It’s Getting Harder to Sort the ‘Credible’ from the Incredible” and “Everyone Wants ‘Power’. Everyone Thinks Someone Else Has It.”). And she was interviewed in Smithsonian Magazine, and at Longreads and The Rumpus recently as well.

Sharp is in bookstores now.