ERUDITE, caustic and hilarious, Seth Kaufman’s essays in Metaphysical Graffiti are creative non-fiction writing at its best. He uses lists, anecdotes, mock-Socratic dialogues and dramatic pastiche to condemn hype and celebrate authenticity and audacity.

Kaufman takes pains to define “audacity,” citing the smart satire, purposeful virtuosity and musical game-playing of Jethro Tull’s Thick as a Brick. But 2112 by Rush, a celebration of the “odious anti-collectivist philosophy of Ayn Rand,” self-indulgent and pretentious, is no risk-taker.

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