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A Plea for Eros

C

The essays in A Plea for Eros — about writing, writers, and how author Siri Hustvedt’s childhood was way more sepia-toned than yours — are cloistered, academic affairs that presuppose a kind of sterile affection for Henry James, Charles Dickens, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and loosey-goosey psychoanalysis (”In my waking life, I’m a woman, but sometimes in my dreams I’m a man”). Only one stands out: a piece originally written for London’s Observer, ”9/11, or One Year Later.” Its trepidatious, fractured tone is so striking that when, in her final essay, Hustvedt writes, ”I am afraid of writing, too, because when I write, I am always moving toward the unarticulated, the dangerous, the place where the walls don’t hold” — you wonder what could happen if she let go of that fear. Not to psychoanalyze or anything.

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