The Paul Goodman Reader in Publishers Weekly

The Paul Goodman Reader

Publishers Weekly
July 2011

Compiled for those not yet born” when editor and friend Taylor Stoehr met the astonishingly prolific social critic Paul Goodman in 1950, this selection of essays, excerpts, short fiction, and poetry presents the work of the self-confessed “Man of Letters” to a new generation. Seldom afraid to plead ignorant on specialist topics, Goodman instead applies his own forte–human beings–to wholly illuminating social critiques incorporating philosophy, theology, psychoanalysis (he co-founded Gestalt Therapy), and American popular culture. At the core of many a discourse is speech and language. With terrifyingly accurate sketches of “Orwellian” politics and Goffman-esque analyses of media-influenced human communication, Goodman sweeps through notions of apathy, alienation, and power while exuding his own sense of enterprise and belief in infamous zeitgeist pieces. A renaissance thinker rather than an active proponent for social change, his prophetic writing garnered attention, especially Growing Up Absurd (1960) which hugely, if unintentionally, inspired the youth movements of the following decade. This celebratory compendium is as pertinent today as when Goodman first furiously put pen to paper, and while there may be few concrete answers, Goodman’s way of seeing is riveting and decidedly infectious.

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