Article Title

Representative Men


"Representativeness" is the theme of Shaun O'Connell's essay, "Representative Men." Reviewing six books, one about an actual man and five about fictional men, O'Connell sees them as attempts to define "representative men" of the 1980s, "an era," he observes, "when the worst were full of passionate intensities, particularly among men." Each antiheroic man in these books, he concludes, was "selfish, domineering, dangerous to women, and deceitful, yet each man was also committed to a system of values and ideas that made him an interesting case history — values which, in some instances, redeemed his failings."

As usual, O'Connell, in his understated way, challenges us to relate literary and cultural values to public policy issues, and, as usual, they invariably illuminate the elastic dimensions of public policy with more clarity than more rigid socioeconomic dogmas.

The works discussed in this article include: Iron John: A Book About Men, by Robert Bly; American Psycho, by Bret Easton Ellis; Signs of the Times: Deconstruction and the Fall of Paul de Man, by David Lehman; Amongst Women, by John McGahern; Lies of Silence, by Brian Moore; Chicago Loop, by Paul Theroux; and Rabbit at Rest, by John Updike.



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