I've been seeing enough here and there about the new book of essays titled, you guessed it, Essays, by Wallace Shawn, that I'm feeling myself dragged over toward the neighborhood of one eyebrow raised in possible interest. Shawn is the gnomish writer and actor and, famously, son of William Shawn, editor of the New Yorker for most of the latter part of the 20th century. I saw Wallace Shawn's movie My Dinner with Andre many years ago and loved it, and have been meaning to rewatch it because I'm curious about what I'll think now. I have never seen or read one of his plays but have read about them with interest. Especially his 1997 play The Designated Mourner; I recall that when that one debuted on Broadway and I read the reviews I was surprised to discover that it was very political and that Shawn is a progressive, politically minded artist.
All of which is to say he's been sneaking up on me a bit and now, with this book and the fact that it's published by Haymarket, a left political press, he's just about got me ready to read the thing. I did just read this over at the Huffington Post. I believe it's excerpted from the introduction to the new book of essays. I found it ... well, I'm not completely sure what I found it, but it did not make me feel less intrigued about reading the whole book. He seems to be trying to get at something about the role of the artist in bourgeois society. He's clearly nowhere near a revolutionary; I think it's possible nonetheless that he has some worthwhile thoughts on these questions of art and class and the state of the world. Maybe.