Book – My Avant-Garde Education

My Avant-Garde Education


Advance Praise:

In My Avant-Garde Education, Bernard Cooper delivers a kind of magic. He works in a mode that is so subtle, so ingenious, so deeply rooted in the visceral that it almost defies verbal description. Maybe that’s because the book isn’t just about the act of looking or one young man’s relationship to images but about the way that aesthetics can guide us to our most authentic selves. It’s about the power of art to shape the soul. This book employs the best practices of the best memoirs. It tells the writer’s story while also telling the story of a larger world, in this case a world that is both ripe for satire and a mirror of our greatest ambitions, anxieties and acts of imagination. By asking, “what is art?” Cooper is really asking, “what is life?” And though he gives us no easy answers, he explores these questions with such insight, humor, and generosity of spirit that we come away not only educated but genuinely enlightened.  Meghan Daum, author of The Unspeakable: And Other Subjects of Discussion

 We could all use an avant-garde education. If it’s too late for you, please read MY AVANT-GARDE EDUCATION. Bernard Cooper is one of the funniest writers I know, and like all the best humor, his work is tinged with the darker streams of life. — Rachel Kushner, author of The Flame Throwers

A smart and funny coming-into-consciousness narrative of an extraordinary writer, a precise and evocative art-history lesson, and (above all) a persuasive reclamation of the everyday. A beautiful book. — David Shields, author of Reality Hunger

Bernard Cooper is among my most favorite writers for his fearlessness, his honesty, his grace. He has written eloquently about subjects many of us can find few words for and now he’s turned his eye onto his own coming of age in the world of Cal Arts—an epicenter for art, creativity and a kind of highly intellectual absurdity. Cooper brilliantly captures what it is to awaken to one’s creative self and the need to find what is one’s own in terms of intellectual and personal identity while making sense of the world that surrounds.” –A.M. Homes, author of May We Be Forgiven

The paradox of making something from nothing, of threading the maze of reality, is finely illuminated in this honest, articulate and moving memoir.  Through his search for the avant-garde, Bernard Cooper found something rarer, a wisdom grounded in humility before unanswerable questions.  In doing so, he has achieved a combination of “Beauty plus pity,” Nabokov’s definition of art. — Phillip Lopate, author of Portrait Inside My Head

 Bernard Cooper has created another elegantly simple testament to the power of the personal story.  This is a riveting, soulful, whimsical, mournful, and triumphantly moving story about that weirdly mysterious process of transferring meaning from life to art, and then back again into life. — John D’Agata, author of About A Mountain

A personal chronicle of the era of conceptual art, from a writer of uncommon subtlety and nuance. — David Ulin, Los Angeles Times

PEN/Hemingway Award winner Cooper (The Bill From My Father: A Memoir, 2006, etc.) returns with a memoir/essay collection (some previously published) that chronicles his early interest in pop art and charts where that interest has taken him. Throughout, his sentences elicit laughs, gasps and tears. An unconventional narrative that focuses on sharp, piercing moments.  –Kirkus Review

In this lively memoir, art critic and writer Cooper retraces his youth, up to and including his intellectual awakening in the heyday of conceptual art and vividly recalls his experience as a son, brother, student, and closeted young gay man.  Alternately funny and touching, offbeat characters richly animate Coopers narrative.  –Publisher’s Weekly


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