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Hardcover Within The Context Of No Context Book

ISBN: 0871136708

ISBN13: 9780871136701

Within The Context Of No Context

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Format: Hardcover

Condition: Very Good

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Book Overview

Written originally for a special issue of the New Yorker in 1978 and reissued here with a new Foreword by the author, Within the Context of No Context is George Trow's brilliant exposition on the state of American culture and 20th century life.

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

Within the Context of polling

I've been thinking about this book a lot lately, especially Trow's description of the Family Feud anecdote in which the game show host "asked contestants to guess what a poll of a hundred people had guessed would be the height of the average American woman. Guess what they've guessed. Guess what they've guessed the average is." Media these days are seemingly obsessed with telling us how we ourselves, as individuals or groups, think or feel about everything. Trow saw the danger of this nearly thirty years ago. The book is both dense and ethereal - interpret it as you will. In the introduction, written a decade after publication, Trow describes how his family's background in publishing led to his feelings about the demise of culture. This does a lot to put In the Context into context.

Absolutely Prescient

Due to its unique structure (lots of brief, choppy sections, almost stream of consciousness writing at times) this is somewhat challenging to read, but worth the struggle. Trow had a bit of a class axe to grind, but he certainly understood the impact of TV and saw the not unrelated decline of a sophisticated mass culture. Given how much farther we have traveled in that direction, it's not hard to see why he abandoned the US and retreated to Italy at the end of his life.

Apocalypse now

The New Yorker has turned the entirety of its magazine over to a single work four times. John Hersey's Hiroshima, Rachel Carson's Silent Spring, and Jonathan Schell's The Fate of the Earth, cautionary and apocalyptic all, were three. The fourth is this book.Within the Context of No Context went out of print almost instantly after it was published in 1980. Nobody got this book in 1980. It's a difficult read, in a voice that is diffuse, associative, and allusive, and at the same time makes direct assertions about the way things are, which few of us are comfortable reading. It's not a book that people were quite ready to read in 1980.Except for newsmen. People who made their living by drinking out of the firehose and transforming the experience into column inches understood this book right away. (These are the same people who don't need anyone to explain the first sentence of The White Album to them.) Trow put their unease into words. And for 15 years Within the Context of No Context existed in a kind of samizdat, a thick sheaf of photocopied pages handed from one reporter or columnist or editor to another.You shouldn't buy this book, ideally. Someone should give you a copy of it, Xeroxed from The New Yorker, saying "Read this. This makes sense. This makes everything make sense."22 years later, it's much easier to read and understand, to criticize and quibble with. It's no longer prophecy. Unlike the apocalypses that John Hersey and Rachel Carson and Jonathan Schell were warning us about, the one Trow outlined has already happened. We've even gotten used to it.

brilliant and scathing and right

one doesn't want to admit it, but trow is dead-on in this book. these aren't observations that are new in any way, but they are presented in brilliant, crystaline prose that one can't exscape or deny.

Terrific, strange, beautifully acute essay on mass culture

I was thrilled to hear that this strange, brilliant book is being reissued. It's one of those books people press on their friends saying, "You should read this -- *really.*" My own copy has long been gone, pocketed by an acquaintance whom I pressed it on in an excess of generosity. The book itself is hard to describe. It's an elegant personal meditation on (among other things) the decline of WASP society, the effects of television and celebrity on American culture, and the author's inability to wear a fedora without crushing embarrassment. If memory serves, there's also a second essay about producer Ahmet Ertegun and his assistant David Geffen -- this was long before David Geffen was *David Geffen* -- that didn't seem as good at the time but may now seem prescient. Trow's elliptical, lapidary style gives you some of the dizzying feeling you get from David Foster Wallace, though his work is a lot shorter and more terse. Terrific stuff
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