Keith Gessen

Moscow-born, Harvard-educated Keith Gessen founded the trendy literary journal n+1 while still in his 20s, earning a kind of geekdom that only a few aspire to. The zeitgeist of his debut novel-in-stories, All the Sad Young Literary Men (Viking, $24.95) bears a resemblance to that of Gessen’s n+1 cohort Benjamin Kunkel’s debut, Indecision. It follows a trio of bohemian intellectuals who have spent their entire (short) lives in libraries and have very strong opinions on Israel. Joyce Carol Oates called Literary Men “persistently Seinfeldian,” to which I can only add, yadda, yadda, yadda. Because, indeed, the novel is full of anxiety, self-loathing, self-conscious theorizing at Ivy League schools, and moving to Brooklyn. (Guess where Gessen lives!) Perhaps there’s no way to escape the maxim that first novels spring from autobiography; but, providing the rare service of placing these stories in their larger context, Gessen’s is a sincerely smart, funny book that’s both psychologically and politically astute. Elliott Bay Book Co., 101 S. Main St., 624-6600, www.elliottbaybook.com. 7 p.m. KARLA STARR

Wed., April 30, 7 p.m., 2008

 
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