The Thing Itself, On the Search for Authenticity

The Thing Itself, On the Search for Authenticity

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by Richard Todd

The Thing Itself book

“The Thing Itself is a small masterpiece—
and ‘small’ only because of its brevity, not its scope.”
—Julia Keller, Chicago Tribune


In the introduction to The Thing Itself, Richard Todd writes: “This book began with a simple feeling, the sense that my life and much of the life around me was not ‘real.’” What does it mean to be “real,” and why do we care about it so much? That is the question that unites a book about subjects as various as antique furniture and television news, wilderness and Disney World, presidential campaigns and intimate memories from the author’s own life.

The Thing Itself is about our hunger for authenticity—authenticity in objects and travel, in politics and ideas, and, most important, in ourselves.

Reader beware: this is not a seven-step Guide to a More Authentic Life! It is instead a meditation, by turns comic and lyrical, on an eternal problem with a special relevance to contemporary America.


The Thing Itself was published in August, 2008 by Riverhead Books, New York.
ISBN 978-1-59448-851-1