Louis Menand, writing in The New Yorker, called Geoffrey O'Brien's The Phantom Empire "a prose poem about the pleasures and distractions of movie-watching," "an ambitiously literary attempt to write about the [mystery of the] medium as though it were a dream the author had just awakened from." Now, in The Browser's Ecstasy, O'Brien has written a prose poem about reading, a playful, epigrammatic nocturne upon the dream-state one falls into when "lost in a book," upon the uncanny, trancelike pleasure of making silent marks on paper utter sounds inside one's head.
We call The Browser's Ecstasy a "Meditation on Reading," but like any truly original book-and especially the short book that goes both far and deep-it resists easy summary and classification. As Luc Sante once wrote, "The density of O'Brien's work makes word count irrelevant as an index of substance; he is seemingly capable of compressing entire encyclopedias into his parenthetical asides. I defy you to name any precedent for what he does. He's a school unto himself."...Continua