American Audacity considers giants from the past (Herman Melville, Edgar Allan Poe, Harper Lee, Denis Johnson), some of our most well-known living critics and novelists (Harold Bloom, Stanley Fish, Katie Roiphe, Cormac McCarthy, Allan Gurganus, Elizabeth Spencer), as well as those cultural-literary themes that have concerned Giraldi as an American novelist (bestsellers, the 'problem' of Catholic fiction, the art of hate mail, and his viral essay on bibliophilia).
Giraldi is our most tenacious revivalist preacher, his sermons galvanized by a righteous exhortative energy, a mastery of the sacred texts and — unique in contemporary literary criticism — an enthusiasm for moralizing in defense of high standards ... Giraldi is defiantly, lavishly unforgiving ... American Audacity is the rare example of a collection that coheres into a manifesto ... His critical criteria are timeless ... American Audacity is, despite itself, a deeply optimistic book.
[Giraldi is] a talented, ambitious critic who is unafraid to take hard stances and ruffle literary feathers — which means that sometimes his opinions feel like invectives. He’s also the only critic in America who in his mid 40s deserves a book as expansive as American Audacity ... Giraldi, though critical, is not cynical. He’s a generous and wide reader, and American Audacity covers a healthy amount of literary terrain ... Giraldi’s critical writing makes you want to read more, right now.
[Giraldi is] an unapologetic literary snob who lionizes critics as cultural arbiters, Giraldi enlists in a crusade against bad writing and celebrates the role of criticism as policing the borders of literary legitimacy ... Giraldi writes for an educated generalist audience and claims to detest academia ... A host of detailed, thoughtful, often rancorous reviews haunted by a love/hate relationship with American letters and replete with choice tidbits from the author's commonplace book but offering few original or illuminating insights.