Well, I’ve finally emerged from the flu-ish, globally warmed welter of mid-to-late winter– ready, as always, to divest myself of worldly goods as quickly as possible. First up is a lovely giveaway from journalist and author David Samuels, who does not yet have a functioning website! I find that admirable. (In the meantime, you may look him up at Wikipedia.)
Samuels, whose recent piece “Shooting Britney” just appeared on the cover of the Atlantic–which has its good points–is releasing two books from the New Press: Only Love Can Break Your Heart (read the title essay here), and The Runner, which began as a New Yorker profile about “con artist, thief & phony Princeton student James Hogue.” (Related: Put your archives online already, Eustace! What is this, 1902?)
Only Love Can Break Your Heart, a “disillusioned love song to the often amusing and sometimes fatal American habit of self-delusion,” was called by the Observer a “thrilling series of counternarratives to our prevailing national fantasies about luck” while Keith Gessen, reviewing The Runner for the NYTBR, declares Samuels “an elite narrative journalist, a master at teasing out the social and moral implications of the smallest small talk, of the way people turn their heads or slide into non sequitur as they try to explain themselves”–also informing us an impressive 10 to 12 times that he went to Harvard.
THE CHALLENGE: To win these two books, I am asking the following: Reader, find the best word or phrase to describe when a reviewer commences with a personal anecdote, generally of dubious relevance, that just-so-happenstancedly manages to contain certain tangential and ill-concealed references to the reviewer’s own achievements/successes. (See: “At the end of our freshman year at Harvard, my roommates and I…“) Listen, I’ll even start you off with a really bad one: The Mede.* Also: I am sure I have done this.
I’m off to improve my immune system by eating some Activia while preparing for Sense!!! & Sensibility!!!. Contest ends Friday! Good luck!
* As someone who was flu’d under for two months, I am hardly of the position to demand anything of anybody. If you want to simply email me or enter in the comments with no entry at all, that’s fine, but I reserve the right to override for cleverer responses. Unless you went to, like, OXFORD, in which case you win automatically.