Book of Days: Personal Essays

Emily Fox Gordon, Author, Phillip Lopate, Introduction by
Emily Fox Gordon, preface by Phillip Lopate, Spiegel and Grau, $15 paper (320p) ISBN 978-0-385-52589-3
Reviewed on: 06/28/2010
Release date: 08/01/2010
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After publishing two memoirs (Mockingbird Years; Are You Happy?) and a novel (It Will Come To Me), Gordon claims the personal essay as her chosen métier. "What I seem to want to do… is not to have experiences but to think and tell about them," Gordon asserts. Touching on several subjects—her childhood as a "faculty brat," her experiences in therapy, her husband's colonoscopy, a niece's wedding, and a conference of philosophers among them—this collection is self-absorbed and tedious. For example, the author shares a few pages of random notes jotted at the conference ("A guy with a canvas Brentano bag, looking dyspeptic and confused…"), but fails to derive any meaning, or even much humor, from her musings. Her combative but successful marriage and her "sense of exclusion" provide repetitive fodder for rumination, while extraordinary events in her life, such as an illegal abortion and being raped, are given only glancing looks. Gordon's "thinking aloud" makes the reader feel superfluous. (Aug.)
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