Paperback review: Living, Thinking, Looking, By Siri Hustvedt


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The Independent Culture

As a novelist who once considered a career as a psychologist, it's not surprising that Siri Hustvedt should be concerned with what makes the self a "self", what the difference between memory and imagination is, what we're actually doing when we're reading.

Her personal approach, though, divests such philosophical questions of their dryness and stiltedness to make them urgent and relevant – she moves from her recall of her father, for instance, a "gentle, kind man" with whom she always had a strong rapport, to wondering about the inability of daughters to "become" their fathers and what that does to them, to wondering what that does to women writers, caught in the midst of a patriarchal literary legacy. As an essayist, Hustvedt is the best kind: superbly clear, intellectually challenging but always human.