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Susan Sontag’s Novels

Posted July. 21, 2007 03:03,   


Just like other essayists and critics, Susan Sontag (1933-2004) has always been passionate about creating new work. After her books “Against Interpretation and Other Essays” and “Where the Stress Falls,” people called her the “Queen of the New York Intelligentsia.” However, she wanted to be called a novelist.

Her book “I, etcetera” is a novel that contains such hope. The book, which is composed of eight short stories, shows her passion for writing novels, and deep concern regarding elements that should be included in a novel, such as “now” and “here.”

One of the stories in the book “Dolls” starts with a scene where a father, who wants to what he wants to do, is making a doll. This well-made doll kisses the cheeks of the man’s children and reads the New York Times. It reviews paperwork at work, smokes cigarettes, and attends sales meetings. The doll’s tears show the stress the man has been living under. He thinks briefly that he should live a happy life, but soon even the doll says that living that man’s life is unbearable. Sontag looks at the “not so pleasant view of the modern world.” People have to look at the doll to see how stressed out their lives have been.

Another story, “Baby,” starts with a teenage boy who gets ‘drugs’ after attending therapy sessions with a psychiatrist before he leaves home armed with an air rifle. But later the book reveals problems about his parents who are incapable of communicating with their children, not to mention the boy. The parents’ remarks take up much of the story, which shows what the writer wants to say.

The story “America’s Souls” shows Sontag’s unique sense of sarcasm. It is about a “flat-faced gal,” who led a puritanical life, but lives a new life after meeting “Mr. Erotica.” The story also symbolizes an American society where abstinence and debauchery exist together chaotically. In the will of the “flat-face gal,” thoughts of Sontag are expressed pronouncedly: “America, I pay tribute to you! Especially to the sides that are not so beautiful. I’ve tried to find positive aspects when I looked at you and your people, even though you are kind and fun to be with on the outside, but mean on the inside. I’ve spent my whole life trying to figure out who you are. Or me, in other words.”