Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader

Anne Fadiman, Author Farrar Straus Giroux $18 (162p) ISBN 978-0-374-14860-7
The author of last year's NBCC-winning The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, has collected 18 essays about her relationships with books, reading, writing and words. Gathered from the ""Common Reader"" column Fadiman wrote for Civilization magazine, these essays are all inspired by interesting ideas--how spouses merge their large libraries, the peculiar pleasures of reading mail-order catalogues, the joys of reading aloud, how people inscribe their books and why. Unfortunately, some of these fascinating ideas grow fussy. The minutiae of the shelving arrangements at the Fadiman household brings the reader to agree with the author's husband, who ""seriously contemplated divorce"" when she begged him to keep Shakespeare's plays in chronological order. The aggressive verbal games waged in Fadiman's (as in Clifton) family are similarly trying: They watched G.E. College Bowl, almost always beating the TV contestants; they compete to see who can find the most typos on restaurant menus; and adore obscure words such as ""goetic"" (pertaining to witchcraft). At least the author is self-aware: ""I know what you may be thinking. What an obnoxious family! What a bunch of captious, carping, pettifogging little busybodies!"" Well, yes, but Fadiman's writing, particularly in her briefer essays, is lively and sparkling with earthy little surprises: William Kunstler enjoyed writing (bad) sonnets, John Hersey plagiarized from Fadiman's mother. Books are madeleines for Fadiman, and like those pastries, these essays are best when just nibbled one or two at a time. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/28/1998
Release date: 10/01/1998
Genre: Nonfiction
Downloadable Audio - 978-1-4498-7451-3
Paperback - 144 pages - 978-0-14-028370-9
Paperback - 162 pages - 978-0-374-52722-8
Ebook - 162 pages - 978-1-4299-2942-4
Show other formats
FORMATS
Discover what to read next
TIP SHEET
MORE BOOKS YOU'D LIKE
X
X