The New York Times

In 'Sontag,' the Author's Myth Takes Center Stage

All her life, Susan Sontag, a voracious moviegoer, insisted on sitting in the same seat in theaters: third row, center.

I can’t recommend it, not if you value your neck. But it’s where she sat, and the very place she occupied in the culture for close to a half century — up front, in the midst of the action — establishing the tone and terms for debates on taste, language, global literature, ethics and photography, involving herself in matters of military intervention and genocide. Not for her the stately remove of the American intellectual, the retiring panel-dweller — never mind the risk to her neck; Sontag was in Sarajevo during the Bosnian War and Berlin as the wall fell. She was the striking subject of photographs by Richard Avedon, Diane Arbus and Robert Mapplethorpe — a Zelig-like figure who even made a cameo in “Zelig.”

Sontag died in 2004, of complications of leukemia. Since then, another essay collection has been published, along

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