What do seashells, obesity, graffiti, and the American ghetto have in common? Nude hot springs and the Japanese theater? Atheists and family-values conservatives? Why do atheists go on religious pilgrimages? How have schools infantilized our understanding of Shakespeare, and the textbook industry conspired to turn our language’s history into agitprop? What is the single most dangerous sexual idea that even the liberated can’t handle?
Ranging across centuries and continents, Isham Cook’s far-flung essays, whether discoursing on the most radical or homespun of topics, are guided by the notion of the “edge.” The edge represents the limits of conventional understanding, the zone beyond stereotypes and groupthink; it is where received ideas are recast in fresh and striking ways.
“Food for thought, elegantly prepared.” — Kirkus Reviews
“Reminds one of an etching that has been precisely scribed to create a sharp effect.” — Michael Collins, author of St George and the Dragons: The Making of English Identity
“Imagine a conversation over thirteen evenings with a perceptive and erudite companion.” — James Lande, author of Yang Shen: The God from the West
Table of Contents:
Chapter 1: An American Talisman
Chapter 2: American Rococo
Chapter 5: Philip Glass and Tan Dun
Chapter 7: Why Airbnb Ain’t My Cup of Tea
Chapter 8: The Breast Etiquette Project
Chapter 9: A Shakespeare Sex-and-Violence Starter Kit