Where the Stress Falls : Essays
Author(s): Susan Sontag
Thirty-five years after her first collection, the now classic Against Interpretation, America's most important essayist has chosen more than forty longer and shorter pieces from the last twenty years. Divided into three sections, the first "Reading" includes ardent pieces on writers from her own private canon - Machado de Assis, Barthes, W. G. Sebald, Borges, Tsvetaeva, and Elizabeth Hardwick. In the second, "Seeing" she shares her passions for film, dance, photography, painting, opera, and theater. And in the final section, "There and Here" Sontag explores her own commitments to the work (and activism) of conscience and to the vocation of the writer.
“What ultimately matters about Sontag is what she has defended: the life of the mind, and the necessity for reading and writing as ‘a way of being fully human.' She has been a great explainer, but her explanations are not reductive....She regroups the familiar and makes the eye fresh....She stands for what is articulate, independent, exploratory: for self as work in progress.” —Hilary Mantel, Los Angeles Times Book Review
“[The essays] invariably also leave one with the urgent desire to read the book or see the painting, play, dance she describes. Her passion evokes that urgency...The outstanding essays are ‘Waiting for Godot in Sarajevo' and ‘Writing Itself: On Roland Barthes,' both of which are definitive and awe-inspiring.” —Bookforum
“Three essays--the longest in the book--are of unquestioned lasting importance. They are ‘Writing Itself: On Roland Barthes,' ‘Waiting for Godot in Sarajevo' and the title essay [‘Where the Stress Falls' which] is a stunning tour de force.” —Houston Chronicle
“Where the Stress Falls raises the bar of criticism to the highest level....Her energy infuses every word in the collection.” —The Seattle Times
“Her criticism is art in its own right, so gorgeously formed and creative, so vital and searching, deeply rooted in passionately intelligent reading and unstinting curiosity ....A substantial and wonderfully musical collection that makes matters literary and artistic urgent and thrilling.” —Booklist