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Nothing Remains the Same: Rereading and Remembering

"Damn. Some people get all the great ideas. Occasionally, though more rarely, an idea even gets exactly the right person. Both have managed to happen in this happy instance. Wendy Lesser's Nothing Remains the Same is an inspired intellectual romp: part memoir, part criticism, though actually a bracing, larkish reinvention of them both." — Lawrence Weschler, author of the Pulitzer Prize–winning Mr. Wilson's Cabinet of Wonder

"Sometimes we have the notion that a book is like a can of peas—once opened, devoured, it is finished. Good books are never finished; they change, they evolve, like living creatures, with each reading. It is this interaction of reader and text which Wendy Lesser explores in her brilliant new book, an enthralling, profound, and high-spirited blend of autobiography, literary analysis, and self-analysis. Nothing Remains the Same has sent me, as it will send many readers, back to rereading their favorite books, discovering how they have changed, and discovering themselves in the process." — Oliver Sacks


Revisiting her favorite books after the passage of twenty or thirty years, Wendy Lesser is stirred by the changes she finds—in the books, in herself, and in the wider world. If Nothing Remains the Same: Rereading and Remembering (Houghton Mifflin Company; publication date: May 7, 2002) is a book about reading, it is also a book about time, with rereading as a special form of time travel.

From classic novels such as Anna Karenina and The Portrait of a Lady to a charming tale for young adults called I Capture the Castle, from nonfiction by George Orwell and Henry Adams to poetry by Wordsworth and Milton, from the deeply American Huckleberry Finn to works in translation like Don Quixote and The Idiot, Lesser covers the whole literary spectrum. Nothing Remains the Same is a witty and humane exploration of what books can mean to our lives and vice versa, by a writer who "has the gift of enabling a reader to grasp the deeper workings of art forms, both high and low, in the act of describing how they affect her" (James Shapiro, New York Times Book Review).

Employing insightful observations about her own experiences and about the works she loves, Wendy Lesser creates an inviting portrait, revealing how twenty-one works of literature (and one movie, Vertigo) have shaped the life of one of our most esteemed editors and critics.

About the Author

Since 1980, Wendy Lesser has been the editor of the Threepenny Review, which she founded. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, to which she was elected in 1994, and in 1997 she won the Morton Dauwen Zabel Award for criticism from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Lesser writes regularly on television, books, dance, and film for the New York Times, the American Prospect, the Threepenny Review, and other national publications. Prior to Nothing Remains the Same she published five books, including His Other Half (a sympathetic look at male artists' portrayals of women), Pictures at an Execution (an inquiry into our cultural interest in murder), and The Amateur (an unconventional autobiography). She lives in Berkeley, California, with her husband, Richard Rizzo, and her son, Nick Rizzo.

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