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All the Sad Young Literary Men

It sounds miserable being one of Keith Gessen’s men in All the Sad Young Literary Men — hyper-educated, articulate, and horny strivers. Sam wants to pen a Zionist epic; Mark is stumbling toward a Ph.D.; and Keith, an apparent stand-in for the author, wants to publish celebrated liberal political essays. They all want to be great — or enjoy the reputation of greatness. In the meantime, they want to get laid, and their sad attempts are brilliantly painful exercises in humiliation. Gessen, founding editor of the lit magazine n+1, is shrewd, funny, and oddly compassionate, though consider yourself blessed if you’re not like any of his characters. A-

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