Sharp by Michelle Dean

No critic rating

Waiting for minimum critic reviews

See 5 Critic Reviews

As a female writer who cut her intellectual teeth reading the work of these women in magazines and between book covers, I never considered that these writers were not in the center of our shared intellectual history. But if anyone needed convincing, this work of readable scholarship should do it.
-Star Tribune

Synopsis

The ten brilliant women who are the focus of Sharp came from different backgrounds and had vastly divergent political and artistic opinions. But they all made a significant contribution to the cultural and intellectual history of America and ultimately changed the course of the twentieth century, in spite of the men who often undervalued or dismissed their work.

These ten women—Dorothy Parker, Rebecca West, Hannah Arendt, Mary McCarthy, Susan Sontag, Pauline Kael, Joan Didion, Nora Ephron, Renata Adler, and Janet Malcolm—are united by what Dean calls “sharpness,” the ability to cut to the quick with precision of thought and wit. Sharp is a vibrant depiction of the intellectual beau monde of twentieth-century New York, where gossip-filled parties at night gave out to literary slugging-matches in the pages of the Partisan Review or the New York Review of Books. It is also a passionate portrayal of how these women asserted themselves through their writing in a climate where women were treated with extreme condescension by the male-dominated cultural establishment.

Mixing biography, literary criticism, and cultural history, Sharp is a celebration of this group of extraordinary women, an engaging introduction to their works, and a testament to how anyone who feels powerless can claim the mantle of writer, and, perhaps, change the world.

 

About Michelle Dean

See more books from this Author
 
Published April 10, 2018 by Grove Press.
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction
Add Critic Review

Critic reviews for Sharp
All: 5 | Positive: 3 | Negative: 2

Kirkus

Above average
on Dec 24 2017

Unfortunately, Dean often discusses these female authors’ writerly independence in relation to the men that occupied important places in their lives, an odd choice in a book of this nature. Still, the author presents engaging portraits of brilliant minds.

Read Full Review of Sharp | See more reviews from Kirkus

Star Tribune

Good
Reviewed by Jeffrey Ann Goudie on Apr 13 2018

As a female writer who cut her intellectual teeth reading the work of these women in magazines and between book covers, I never considered that these writers were not in the center of our shared intellectual history. But if anyone needed convincing, this work of readable scholarship should do it.

Read Full Review of Sharp | See more reviews from Star Tribune

NY Times

Below average
Reviewed by Laura Jacobs on Apr 11 2018

Dean lays out this controversy, and many others, with a deft hand, but sometimes skips ahead just when we want her to deliver her own view.

Read Full Review of Sharp | See more reviews from NY Times

Guardian

Below average
Reviewed by Lidija Haas on Jun 28 2018

It’s always fun to read about these women as social and professional creatures – where they published, whom they seduced, how they treated one another – but perhaps inevitably, given how little many of their intellectual projects had in common, Dean doesn’t always pay enough attention to what each one was saying, and how she said it.

Read Full Review of Sharp | See more reviews from Guardian

NPR

Good
Reviewed by Heller McAlpin on Apr 10 2018

All of which puts me in mind of Nietzsche's famous declaration: "A common error: having the courage of one's convictions. Rather, it is a matter of having the courage for an attack on one's convictions." Sharp is a wonderful celebration of some truly gutsy, brilliant women.

Read Full Review of Sharp | See more reviews from NPR

Rate this book!

Add Review
×