A “deeply researched and uncommonly engrossing” book profiling ten trailblazing literary women, including Dorothy Parker and Joan Didion (Paris Review).
In Sharp, Michelle Dean explores the lives of ten women of vastly different backgrounds and points of view who all made a significant contribution to the cultural and intellectual history of America. These women—Dorothy Parker, Rebecca West, Hannah Arendt, Mary McCarthy, Susan Sontag, Pauline Kael, Joan Didion, Nora Ephron, Renata Adler, and Janet Malcolm—are united by what Dean calls “sharpness,” the ability to cut to the quick with precision of thought and wit.
Sharp is a vibrant depiction of the intellectual beau monde of twentieth-century New York, where gossip-filled parties gave out to literary slugging-matches in the pages of the Partisan Review or the New York Review of Books. It is also a passionate portrayal of how these women asserted themselves through their writing despite the extreme condescension of the male-dominated cultural establishment.
Mixing biography, literary criticism, and cultural history, Sharp is a celebration of this group of extraordinary women, an engaging introduction to their works, and a testament to how anyone who feels powerless can claim the mantle of writer, and, perhaps, change the world.