Wednesday, January 16, 2008

At Large and at Small

Anne Fadiman's collection of familiar essays is the most charming little book I've read in a long time. It's a small book, filled with stories about things near and dear to her heart - coffee, ice cream, moving, night owls and morning larks, Charles Lamb - but it's so much more than that.

The art of the familiar essay is to write about something you love, say coffee, but to include bits of history on coffee, quotations from other coffee lovers, anecdotes of your personal history with coffee, and to make it all entertaining. Fadiman pulls it off in style. I smiled through the whole book.

Fadiman has another book I love called Ex Libris, which is a whole book about books. Each time I'm feeling a little down or overwhelmed, I'll pull out this book and read an essay or two. It's a treat to spend time with someone who loves books as much as I. My favorites are her essays on her family's compulsive need to catch typos and misspellings in menus and on her struggle to combine her book collection with her husband's - two areas with which I am all too familiar.

Fadiman has a third book, called The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, which I haven't read yet. After reading At Large, I may have to pick it up the next time I'm at the store.

1 comment:

mcquest yb said...

Fairly good introductive reviews which provoke readers to read.