Humiliation by Wayne Koestenbaum
(Big Ideas//Small Books)

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Koestenbaum is an avowedly excitable guide to the subject and sometimes strains historical affinities between his own minor embarrassments....
-Guardian

Synopsis

Wayne Koestenbaum considers the meaning of humiliation in this eloquent work of cultural critique and personal reflection.

The lives of people both famous and obscure are filled with scarlet-letter moments when their dirty laundry sees daylight. In these moments we not only witness the reversibility of "success," of prominence, but also come to visceral terms with our own vulnerable selves. We can't stop watching the scene of shame, identifying with it and absorbing its nearness, and relishing our imagined immunity from its stain, even as we acknowledge the universal, embarrassing predicament of living in our own bodies. With an unusual, disarming blend of autobiography and cultural commentary, noted poet and critic Wayne Koestenbaum takes us through a spectrum of mortifying circumstances—in history, literature, art, current events, music, film, and his own life. His generous disclosures and brilliant observations go beyond prurience to create a poetics of abasement. Inventive, poignant, erudite, and playful, Humiliation plunges into one of the most disquieting of human experiences, with reflections at once emboldening and humane.

 

About Wayne Koestenbaum

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Wayne Koestenbaum is an American poet and cultural critic. He received a BA from Harvard University, an MA from Johns Hopkins University, and a PhD from Princeton University. He lives in New York City, where he is Distinguished Professor of English at the City University of New York Graduate Center.
 
Published August 2, 2011 by Picador. 193 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Health, Fitness & Dieting, Political & Social Sciences, Gay & Lesbian, Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction
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Guardian

Below average
Reviewed by Brian Dillon on Jan 06 2012

Koestenbaum is an avowedly excitable guide to the subject and sometimes strains historical affinities between his own minor embarrassments....

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