Thursday, March 27, 2008

Book Review: At Large, and At Small

Hey, all. We're still here. I happened to need a break from the computer during Holy Week, and as you may imagine, said week before Easter, with an event at our church every night of the week, is a busy time for a church musician. On to some recent literary musings!
Anne Fadiman has become one of my favorite authors. You know, the kind whose book you read just because they wrote it. I read these two little volumes with sheer delight. In her newer book, At Large and at Small; Familiar Essays by Anne Fadiman , she writes a tidy little piece on the familiar essay itself, listing her favorite masters of the genre.
The man she missed, in my book, is G. K. Chesterton. (as an aside, the St. Paul Public library has a great collection of his out of print work; help me keep it in circulation!) He wrote a few interesting greater works; The Everlasting Man, The Man Who Was Thursday, and, most delightfully, the Innocence and Scandal of Father Brown, respectively; but a lot of his leavings are inhibitively dated. I hate to say it, being a fan of the archaic, but it's true. He does also have many volumes of familiar essays. I think they were originally written for newspaper columns or the like? Lovely little musings on diverse themes such as, "On Losing One's Hat," "On Cheeses," "On the Contents of My Pockets." Make me want to saunter into a nearby pub and shoot the breeze with such a chum as he.
Anne Fadiman's essays differ from Chesterton's in style; they are heavily researched and quite denser, but retain the cheerful, serious, and contemplative solidity that I love in this genre. I heartily recommend them.

1 comment:

nt moore said...

Hey guys,

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