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This review is from: Awkwardness: An Essay (Kindle Edition)
Awkwardness fascinates me, chiefly because, as Kotsko writes, 'awkwardness is not a property of a situation that could be objectively observed as though from the outside - if you are observing awkwardness *as* awkwardness, then you are drawn into the awkward situation yourself'. But why are awkward situations so excruciating? Why does awkwardness spread in this way?
Kotsko discusses three types of awkwardness, everyday awkwardness (where social norms are violated), cultural awkwardness (where society has moved on and the old social norms do not fit as well), and finally radical awkwardness (where there are no social norms at all). After an introductory chapter invoking Heidegger and Hegel (although in a very accessible way), Kotsko examines these three types of awkwardness through the lens of "The Office" (UK and US versions), Judd Apatow's films, and "Curb Your Enthusiasm" respectively.
Kotsko's essay is an intelligent and stimulating read. I felt he really got under the skin of awkwardness and the programmes he analyses (although readers not familiar with them might get less out of the discussions and are inevitably going to come across spoilers). The book ends by offering a rousing solution (or maybe accommodation) to the problem of awkwardness. I might be tempted to give it a try next time I'm in an awkward situation, although the very thought is inducing that familiar cringing feeling...