Temptation Island

A novel in letters about love, death and books shows how, in the right circumstances, quirk works

Brook McCormick

Co-authors Annie Barrows, left, and Mary Ann Shaffer.

If Susan Sontag were alive today, she would probably be hard at work on an essay. The essay would be called "Notes on Quirk," and it would be about Juno, Feist, Marisha Pessl, Napoleon Dynamite, Charlie Kaufman, Elizabeth Gilbert, Bridget Jones, Nick Hornby and roughly 71% of all bloggers. The essay would analyze--lovingly, pitilessly--that category of entertainment that celebrates people who are lonely, misunderstood and defiantly eccentric but who, we're supposed to understand, are secretly cooler than everybody else, if only they knew it. Sontag would locate the elusive line that separates Bad Quirk--annoying, self-satisfied idiosyncrasy--from Good Quirk--the authentic weirdness of...

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