A review of Tough Enough:
They accepted the necessity of causing pain to readers in order to force them to look at the hard facts, but they were not personally cruel, perverse, unfeeling. Although there were connections between them – McCarthy and Arendt were friends, McCarthy translated Weil, Sontag wrote influential essays about Weil and Arbus – they were not a group or a school. Nelson suggests that they are “affiliated more closely by style and shared sensibility than they are by biography”.
Indeed, their main affinity may have been their mutual distaste for collectivity, especially in the form of feminism. Their contempt for the sisterly, affectionate, collective and utopian aspects of the feminist movements of their day underlined their individualism and illustrated their resistance to palliative and optimistic visions of all kinds.
(…) Sontag’s beauty and dark imperious mystery silenced her antagonists (…)
I wrote about Tough Enough here…
How could I (a.k.a. “Ming the Merciless”) not order this book before even getting to the end of that review? Simone Weil had been an exasperating yet inspirational “familiar” to me in my 20s. Every crazy, artsy girl loves Diane Arbus’ off-kilter photographs of freaks. I’ve developed a late-in-life appreciation for Didion, having always assumed she was just another bicoastal, big-name liberal bore.
Finally, I’d crack the indelible pubescent puzzle of Sontag’s rarefied “sensibility”—and wouldn’t you know it, the words “Susan Sontag” and “sensibility” appear on page four.
Indeed, there is much to savor throughout…