ALL-TIME AMERICAN WRITERS TOURNAMENT
PERHAPS no writer represented the ethos and essence of the 1960’s as well as Susan Sontag. Though her novels were duds, her essays captured the “Question Everything” zeitgeist of the moment. Photogenic Sontag herself fit the image of hip New Yorker. (This included the pioneering white stripe-in black hair fashion motif adopted by her when she hit middle age, currently used by Democratic Party candidate Tulsi Gabbard.)
Sontag’s most famous book of essays was Against Interpretation (1966). The most famous essay in it: “Notes on Camp,” which didn’t revolutionize changes in American style so much as document them.
Throughout her life Sontag was a provocateur, often making deliberately outrageous statements simply to take a contrarian viewpoint– to look at the other side of things (very 3-D)– and as a method of performance. (As she did after the 9-11 attacks.) More surprising than what she said is that anyone took her statements seriously.
Above all, Susan Sontag had style. Which is why she’s NPL‘s Most Charismatic American Writer #8.
NEXT: Most Charismatic #7.