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Ishmael Reed

The Growth of American Thought

Books as large as Merle Curti’s 1943 The Growth of American Thought (over three pounds) are typically referred to either as a monument (honorific) or a brick (pejorative). Although monuments can certainly be made out of other substances, both nouns suggest stoniness—immutability and imperturbability. We use stone-related words in other contexts to describe writing or the products of writing (for instance, we might praise someone’s “lapidary” prose), but there’s something about a large book that we seem to want to imagine as a piece of rock—a mountain to climb or a boulder to try to push uphill. There are probably Read more