Sontag's Early Journals Mesmerize

Journals tell a touching tale of earnest self-creation
By Victoria Floethe,  Newser User
Posted Dec 16, 2008 6:15 PM CST
In this 2002 file photo, Susan Sontag attends the promotion a new book in Spain.   (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – The newly released diaries of a young Susan Sontag provide an invaluable glimpse of how the writer-to-be came to be, critics say. “I do not just express myself more openly than I could do to any person," the late Sontag writes of journaling. "I create myself." In Reborn: Journals & Notebooks (1947-1963), edited by her son, she dissects her own weaknesses on the highest and most trivial levels, Katie Roiphe writes in Slate. "The diaries are shocking, singular, in both the intimacy of their brisk, notelike form and the astonishing personality they reveal," says Roiphe.

Especially thrilling is Susan Sontag—who seems so categorically adult—as a teenager, writes Sam Anderson in New York Magazine. She compiles long lists for self-improvement: books to read, difficult vocabulary, even reminders to bathe daily. What comes through is Sontag’s ferocious will and the primacy of reading in her life, writes longtime friend, Darryl Pinckney in the New Yorker. "She wanted to be a writer, and would do almost anything to make that happen."