I’ve had a copy of the collected journals of Susan Sontag (Reborn: Journals and Notebooks 1947-1963) in my office for a while, but somehow haven’t managed to get to it yet. Luc Sante’s thoughtful and generous review makes me want to read it. Here’s the opening paragraph:
You might say there are two kinds of writers: those who keep a journal in the hope that its contents might someday be published, and those who do not keep a journal for fear that its contents might someday be published. In other words, no journal-keeping by a writer who harbors any sort of ambition is going to be entirely innocent. The complicated, somewhat voyeuristic thrill the reader might derive from seemingly prying open the author’s desk drawer is therefore, to a certain extent, a fiction in which both parties are complicit.
This notion inescapably comes to mind when one reads the entries by the young Susan Sontag collected in Reborn: Journals and Notebooks 1947-1963 (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $25). Like any author’s journal worth reading, it contains items that anticipate prominent themes of her later published work, as well as others that seem terribly private. What’s unusual, maybe, is that sometimes the intellectual items sound more naked and the private items more hedged.
You can read the review in its entirety here.