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Essays After Eighty
by Donald Hall


Overview - From a former Poet Laureate, a new collection of essays delivering a gloriously unexpected view from the vantage point of very old age Donald Hall has lived a remarkable life of letters, a career capped by a National Medal of the Arts, awarded by the president.  Read more...

 
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More About Essays After Eighty by Donald Hall
 
 
 
Overview
From a former Poet Laureate, a new collection of essays delivering a gloriously unexpected view from the vantage point of very old age Donald Hall has lived a remarkable life of letters, a career capped by a National Medal of the Arts, awarded by the president. Now, in the "unknown, unanticipated galaxy" of very old age, he is writing searching essays that startle, move, and delight. In the transgressive and horrifyingly funny "No Smoking," he looks back over his lifetime, and several of his ancestors' lifetimes, of smoking unfiltered cigarettes, packs of them every day. Hall paints his past: "Decades followed each other -- thirty was terrifying, forty I never noticed because I was drunk, fifty was best with a total change of life, sixty extended the bliss of fifty . . ." And, poignantly, often joyfully, he limns his present: "When I turned eighty and rubbed testosterone on my chest, my beard roared like a lion and gained four inches." Most memorably, Hall writes about his enduring love affair with his ancestral Eagle Pond Farm and with the writing life that sustains him, every day: "Yesterday my first nap was at 9:30 a.m., but when I awoke I wrote again."

 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9780544287044
  • ISBN-10: 0544287045
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
  • Publish Date: December 2014
  • Page Count: 134
  • Dimensions: 8.7 x 5.7 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.5 pounds


Related Categories

Books > Literary Collections > Essays

 
Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2014-09-01
  • Reviewer: Staff

Near the start of this rich essay collection, former U.S. poet laureate Hall—also a biographer, children’s book writer, and literary critic—writes that “poetry abandoned” him after he turned 85, but his prose writing endures and sustains him. And as this book shows, Hall—who sometimes puts his essays through more than 80 drafts—has not lost his touch. Laconic, witty, and lyrical, Hall is a master stylist, yet he remains refreshingly humble and matter-of-fact about fame (his and others): “Everyone knows medals are made of rubber.” Hall’s topics are often autobiographical: the death of his wife, poet Jane Kenyon; his passion for garlic; a car trip through post-WWII Yugoslavia on impassable roads; the limitations of advanced age (“old age is a ceremony of losses”); poetry’s rise in popularity; how “devastated” he felt after being appointed poet laureate; and always, his attachment to his ancestral home in New Hampshire, Eagle Pond Farm, and the ever-changing landscape around it. Using these subjects as a springboard to contemplate loss, recovery, work, discovery, and death, among other themes, he observes that “contradiction is the cellular structure of life,” without which no essay, poem or story can succeed. By exploring the joys and vicissitudes of a long life, this work offers revealing insights into the human condition—and the grit and openness it requires. Agent: Wendy Strothman, Strothman Agency. (Dec.)

 
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