It offers an account of how writing happens across the course of a lifetime—in between the daily realities of kids and jobs (even pharmaceutical company jobs)—and how teachers inspire us to inhabit our best selves, or at least catch sight of what those selves might look like.
There are lines in here that are some of the best descriptions I’ve ever read, casually uttered, as if Saunders could just toss them off before breakfast, which he probably could, and probably does.
The latter essays, summarizing theories that anticipate romanticism, are as psychological in their concern with the experience of art as the essays on Paradise Lost are formalistic, preoccupied with the structure of the poem and its resemblance to other epics.
Addison was eclectic in his approach to literary problems.
(But of course part of his gift to us, in this piece, is showing us that nothing was easy and everything comes along the course of a long, winding road.) Of his teacher Tobias Wolff, he writes: “Toby is a powerful man: in his physicality, in his experiences, in his charisma. It is as if that is the point of power: to allow one to access the higher registers of gentleness.” WTF??
What a magnificent thing to say about another human being. They were deliberately expensive—drawing on a subconscious premium we place on the American lifestyle pre-Civil Rights—and of course, save Addy, all the American Girls were white. The slim book that introduces her, , tells the story of a slave owner forcing a worm into the mouth of his property, that dark-skinned and adorable American girl.I have saved old issues of British music magazines with very limited circulations.I have avidly read essays in praise of my beloveds, no matter how insipid the style or recondite the detail.She writes about “the grace of my parents, for whom exposing me to brutal stories was an act of love.” Stories can be transposed; every word here evolves the question forward.Read the first two paragraphs and you’ll know that Bennett, a wholly unprecious but fundamentally literary writer, is one of the most exciting writers around.The fan becomes proficient in FLAC and Bit Torrent; the critic learns about copy-text and the Hinman collator.You follow Sufjan to Denison Witmer, and you follow Melville to Richard Henry Dana Jr.I have learned about lossless file codecs in order to trade live shows.I have listened to songs recorded by one of my beloveds before he came up with his distinctive sound—before he was any good, in fact—and I have treasured them, because they are, after all, his. I have found obscure, probably unintentional parallels between the lyrics of one beloved’s songs and those of another.“Neither lusty nor lively,” she wrote in 1919, “is the adjective we should apply to the present condition of the latter and the Spectator.” Yet if his best work, a series of essays contributed to The Spectator, has lost some of its former popularity, good reasons remain, now as at any other time, for reading it.The journal is above all famous for the completeness with which it records the life of Queen Anne’s England: what men talked about and thought on many subjects, including literature and literary criticism.