For nearly fifty years, Vivian Gornick’s essays, written with her characteristic clarity of perception and vibrant prose, have explored feminism and writing, literature and culture, politics and personal experience. Drawing writing from the course of her career, Taking a Long Look illuminates one of the driving themes behind Gornick’s work: that the painful process of understanding one’s self is what binds us to the larger world. In these essays, Gornick explores the lives and literature of Alfred Kazin, Mary McCarthy, Diana Trilling, Philip Roth, Joan Didion, and Herman Melville; the cultural impact of Silent Spring and Uncle Tom’s Cabin; and the characters you might only find in a New York barber shop or midtown bus terminal.
Even more, All That Is Given brings back into print her incendiary essays, first published in the Village Voice, championing the emergence of the women’s liberation movement of the 1970s. Alternately crackling with urgency or lucid with insight, the essays in Taking a Long Look demonstrate one of America’s most beloved critics at her best.