Dirda's latest volume collects fifty of his witty and wide-ranging reflections on literary journalism, book collecting, and the writers he loves. Reaching from the classics to the post-moderns, his allusions dance from Samuel Johnson, Ralph Waldo Emerson and M.Read more...
Dirda's latest volume collects fifty of his witty and wide-ranging reflections on literary journalism, book collecting, and the writers he loves. Reaching from the classics to the post-moderns, his allusions dance from Samuel Johnson, Ralph Waldo Emerson and M. F. K. Fisher to Marilynne Robinson, Hunter S. Thompson, and David Foster Wallace. Dirda's topics are equally diverse: literary pets, the lost art of cursive writing, book inscriptions, the pleasures of science fiction conventions, author photographs, novelists in old age, Oberlin College, a year in Marseille, writer's block, and much more, not to overlook a few rants about Washington life and American culture. As admirers of his earlier books will expect, there are annotated lists galore--of perfect book titles, great adventure novels, favorite words, essential books about books, and beloved children's classics, as well as a revealing peek at the titles Michael keeps on his own nightstand.Funny and erudite, occasionally poignant or angry, Browsings is a celebration of the reading life, a fan's notes, and the perfect gift for any booklover.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2015-06-22
- Reviewer: Staff
The columns collected in this volume—all originally posted to the American Scholar’s home page in 2012 and 2013—make up a valentine to people who love reading and books. Washington Post book critic Dirda, a self-described “bookish literary journalist,” channels his passion for reading and collecting books into “essays, meditations, and rants” touching on a wide variety of literary topics: famous pets in fiction, Shelley’s poetry, Poe and Baudelaire, and the legacy of Dover Books, among others. Several pieces describe his excursions to used bookstores and library book sales, where acquisitions serve as madeleines, prompting reminiscences about fellow book collectors, forgotten classics, and underappreciated writers. Some of the essays stray far from the world of books—for example, a nightmarish vacation trip to a Colorado state park and a weeklong power blackout at the height of summer—but their literary allusions show how reading invariably seeps into all aspects of a book-lover’s life. Dirda is gently self-deprecating about his writing and enthusiasms, but his humility is contradicted by his huge roster of literary acquaintances, vast knowledge of both popular and literary fiction, and omnivorous tastes as a reader. Agent: Lynn Chu, Writers’ Representatives. (Aug.)