With My Trousers Rolled: Familiar Essays

Joseph Epstein, Author W. W. Norton & Company $25 (317p) ISBN 978-0-393-03757-9
In several of these engaging, wise and clever essays, Epstein, editor of American Scholar magazine, leaps from autobiographical recollection to social observation. For example, memories of the automobiles of his adolescence segue into an analysis of ``American car culture'' with its rituals of buying, selling and driving. He also writes warmly of his mother, Belle, who granted him enormous freedom as a child and who remained proud and fearless in her all-consuming fight against the cancer that took her life; and he explains how his love for his cat, Isabelle, has reformed his character. Elsewhere Epstein laments the eroding of standards in all spheres of life, recalls growing up in Chicago, discusses anecdotes of history and biography, explores famous writers' idiosyncrasies (Hemingway wrote standing up and kept a daily word count) and strings together zany puns in a meditation on the comic instability of language. A sense of playful intellectual curiosity marks these captivating essays. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 04/03/1995
Release date: 04/01/1995
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