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The Rear View

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So it’s come to this: The recent bounty of books about body parts has arrived at the basest of them all, the humble bottom. And when you want an erudite paean to the posterior, who do you call? A French academic, of course. The Rear View invokes Plato, Renoir, Marilyn Monroe, and a frisky rugby team, among others, in a series of tender meditations that couldn’t be further from hiney-shaping how-tos like Get Your Rear in Gear. ”Our buttocks,” Jean-Luc Hennig writes, among many other (perhaps translation-induced) howlers, ”are unfailing allies.” The man has a point. After all, without them, how could we possibly sit through such demanding, skillful albeit inconsequential reads as this? A-

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