Against Joie de Vivre: Personal Essays

Phillip Lopate, Author
Phillip Lopate, Author Poseidon Press $18.45 (0p) ISBN 978-0-671-67679-7
Reviewed on: 04/30/1989
Release date: 05/01/1989
Despite its cranky title, this lively, unpredictable collection of essays is a joy to read, and read again. Though Lopate rails against the enforced gaiety of dinner parties, camaraderie in bars and sex-on-demand, he is a celebrant in discussing modern friendships, his passion for movies, subletting as a lifestyle, teaching Chekhov to 10-year-olds and ``funky, moody'' Houston, Texas. Pet peeves entertain as he elaborates on noisy neighbors, smokers, nontraditional, write-your-own-vows wedding ceremonies, landlords and pretentious architectural writing. In one of the weightier pieces, Lopate ( The Rug Merchant ) grapples with a fellow teacher's suicide and divulges his own botched suicide attempt at age 17. In ``Samson and Delilah and the Kids,'' a biblical legend serves as the prism for his observations on power relations within his primal family and in his love life. Ever alert and engaging, these invigorating pieces breathe new life into the contemporary essay. (May)
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