I was the type of person who was the question-asker. And not just genuine questions, I would ask a question so the author would know how much I knew about them. Once I went to a Tobias Wolff reading. I knew he was teaching at Syracuse at that time. And so, I remember asking him how he liked Syracuse. People do that to me now and it's okay. There is rarely a time when I just have had enough.
Excellent Sheep is likely to makea lasting mark for three reasons. One, Mr. Deresiewicz spent twenty-four years in the Ivy League, graduating from Columbia and teaching for a decade at Yale. He brings the gory details. Two, the author is a striker, to put it in soccer terms. He's a vivid writer, a literary critic whose headers tend to land in the back corner of the net. Three, his indictment arrives on wheels: He takes aim at just about the entirety of upper-middle-class life in America. Mr. Deresiewicz's book is packed full of what he wants more of in American life: passionate weirdness.
I served for 42 years on the board of trustees of the largest Presbyterian seminary, Princeton Theological Seminary, and we had brilliant people - teachers and students both-but they did not come up with many new concepts. They weren't invited to come up with new concepts. Anybody who had come up with a new concept would have been under suspicion for being out of step with the tradition or out of step with the teachings of the church.