The Thing Itself: On the Search for Authenticity

The Thing Itself: On the Search for Authenticity

by Richard Todd

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The celebrated literary memoir and chronicle of one man's search for the elusive gift of authenticity.

Troubled by the lack of substance in contemporary life, Richard Todd suspects that much of what we experience is false. In this unique pursuit of the "genuine," Todd examines his search for authenticity in places and objects, in politics and ideas, and in ourselves, and recounts his efforts to understand the desire to be a real person in a real world.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781440638381
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 08/14/2008
Sold by: Penguin Group
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 985,722
File size: 268 KB
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Richard Todd has spent many years as a magazine and book editor at The Atlantic, New England Monthly, and Houghton Mifflin. His essays and cultural reportage have appeared in The Atlantic, Harper’s, The New York Times, Worth, and numerous other magazines. A member of the MFA faculty at Goucher College, he lives in Western Massachusetts.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"There is a sweet memoir embedded in this book of cultural criticism, into which Mr. Todd has deftly wrangled the whole gang, from Jean Baudrillard to Lionel Trilling."
-The New York Times

"An arch and eloquent meditation."
-O, the Oprah magazine

"Dazzling, beautifully crafted...A small masterpiece- and 'small' only because of its brevity, not its scope."
-Chicago Tribune

"Provocative and oddly comforting...Refreshing."
-The Arizona Republic

"A fully realized, brave, and movingly honest memoir...[Todd] makes a figure in which to contemplate ourselves."

"A splendid book, brimming with wit and original insights...Most pertinent to the way we live now."
-Ward Just, author of Forgetfulness

Customer Reviews

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The Thing Itself 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Richard Todd's interview on NPR was the reason I bought his book, and I am glad I did. This extended meditation on identity will make many of us uncomfortable. Todd is like the singer in the song who is 'killing us softly' with his amazingly apt observations. Whether we like it or not, much of who we are is shaped by the power of mass communication, and Todd will make you squirm as you realize that yes, others hate Disney World, and we would like to feel we are the only ones touring little towns in Italy. Oddly missing in his reflection, however, is a discussion of sports and steroids (Are we seeing authentic athletic performance) and computer graphics in modern film (the irony of finding a fake background, for example, while watching celluloid in a darkened room). Overall, Todd joins the discussion that begins The Great Gatsby when he repeats the question, 'Is personality (merely) a series of successful gestures?' This book is an excellent contribution to the discussion of truth and identity.
tangledthread on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Essays on our relationships to "things"....including experiences as well as material objects. Interesting observations with writing similar to Wendell Berry's essays.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Mr. Todd's perspective on the authenticity of objects (as it relates to antiques) drew me in. His views on everything else kept me riveted. My hardcopy of the book is bursting with post-its and filled with penciled comments. It's a cultural bible for our times.
theshippingnews More than 1 year ago
Strange, how unhappy a soul this author seems. If there is anything joyful in this book, I'm afraid I really didn't see it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago