Awkwardness has been one of the defining traits of the awkwardly unnamed first decade of our young century dominating comedy on both the big and small screens. Could this trend point toward something deeper? In Awkwardness Adam Kotsko answers that question with a resounding yes. Drawing on key insights of cultural theory he argues that awkwardness is a structuring principle of human experience something that the particular conditions of our time allow us to see with greater clarity than ever before. In an analysis that begins with the difference between the US and UK versions of Ricky Gervais's The Office then passes through the films of Judd Apatow and culminates in the apotheosis of awkwardness Larry David's Curb Your Enthusiasm Kotsko looks at the ways we cope with our awkwardness and the unexpected opportunities awkwardness opens up when we stop resisting it and learn to enjoy it.
REVIEWS & ENDORSEMENTS
Adam Kotsko’s Awkwardness is the kind of criticism — pertinent, witty, sophisticated but without sophistry — in which one can glimpse a culture that doesn’t quite exist. As with the other essays adapted from blogs and published by Zero Books. Awkwardness, in a different America, would supplant the dumbed-down pop and self-help schlock atop the nonfiction best-seller lists. Kotsko’s greatest achievement might be this slim volume’s readability. ~ Malcolm Harris, The New Inquiry
Awkwardness , like others in publisher Zero’s O line, is a short (a mere 90 pages) accessible philosophical/cultural examination of the phenomenon of awkwardness aimed at an popular audience. A Th This This is a great short work of criticism, intelligent without being unnecessarily jargony, often insightful and a pleasure to read. ~ Emmy Manuel, globulcomment.com
Awkwardness is just what a work of philosophy should be. Its subject is relevant and its thesis is audacious: awkwardness is more than a funny feeling—it tells us about ourselves, and it might even be the basis of a utopian practice, “an awkwardness that is so awkward it becomes its own kind of grace.” ~ Tony Cuttenham, Oxonian Review
It is easy to write a deep book on a big crucial concept like anxiety love or evil but it takes a true master to do for awkwardness what Heidegger in his Sein und Zeit did for anxiety and this is what Kotsko does. In his book which combines philosophical stringency with references to popular culture awkwardness is elevated into a universal singularity: a prismatic knot in which our entire historical moment is reflected. If this will not become an instant classic then we really live in awkward times. ~ Slavoj Zizek, Slovenian continental philosopher & Professor at the European Graduate School