Seduced by Story
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From the publisher
Chosen by New York Magazine/Vulture as a Best Book of 2022.
“There’s nothing in the world more powerful than a good story. Nothing can stop it. Nothing can defeat it.” So begins the scholar and literary critic Peter Brooks’s reckoning with today’s flourishing cult of story. Forty years after publishing his seminal work Reading for the Plot, his important contribution to what came to be known as the “narrative turn” in contemporary criticism and philosophy, Brooks returns to question the unquestioning fashion in which story is now embraced as an excuse or explanation and the fact that every brand or politician comes equipped with one. In a discussion that ranges from The Girl on the Train to legal argument, Brooks reminds us that among the powers of narrative is the power to deceive.
A potent defense of attentive reading and its real-world applications.
—Jennifer Szalai, The New York Times
A succinct account of narrative persuasion, offering a solid case for the ambivalent power that stories can have in shaping us as individuals and nations.
—Caterina Domeneghini, Los Angeles Review of Books
Society’s obsession with résumé, and its use to construct an aura of credibility, is such a pervasive element of contemporary life that it inevitably implicates even the author and his own field of “literary humanities.” But that dynamic is exactly what Brooks parses in his terrific critical survey: the essential differences between surface stories and the ways in which they’re constructed.
—J. Howard Rosier, New York Magazine/Vulture
A bracing and insightful look at the downsides of reducing everything to storytelling. . . A thoughtful and revelatory analysis of what’s lost when story trumps all.
For writers, readers, and citizens of the story-addled world.
—Emily Temple, Lit Hub
A rhapsody to the partial suspension of disbelief that allows us to immerse ourselves in novels, but simultaneously and most crucially, a brilliant intervention against the complete suspension of disbelief that allows a citizenry to succumb to conspiracy theories, false-flag narratives, authoritarian fictions. An eloquent and triumphant culmination of Peter Brooks’s lifelong inquiry into the aesthetic and ethical intersection of literature, psychoanalysis, law, and politics. Impossibly good.
Stories are everywhere—shaping us, shocking us, showing us what really happened (or making it up). Peter Brooks invites us to step to one side of our over-storied surroundings to think about all the ways they work. . . . In the process, he tells a gripping tale of his own.
This is an amazing book, crossing back and forth between literature and politics, illuminating each side by the other. It is written without fuss, continually evocative and surprising.