The Art of the Wasted Day

Patricia Hampl. Viking, $26 (288p) ISBN 978-0-525-42964-7
Novelist Hampl (The Florist’s Daughter) offers a wonderfully lavish and leisurely exploration of the art of daydreaming. As an eight-year-old child in a Catholic household, Hampl learned that daydreaming was considered to be one of the “occasions of sin” in the Baltimore Catechism. She made her decision then: “For this a person goes to hell. Okay then.” Decades later, retired and widowed, she commits herself to the task of wasting her life “in order to find it.” Here, Hampl reveals her true purpose: to write a book for baby boomers who “are approaching the other side.” Hampl leads by example. She visits the home of Sarah Ponsonby and Lady Eleanor Butler, two women who discovered that “the act of leaving the world’s stage” could be the “best way to attain balance and... integrity.” Hampl enjoys leisurely meals in south Moravia where she ponders the patient monastic life of Gregor Mendel. Later, she visits Michel de Montaigne’s tower in southwest France. As Hampl rumates and escapes, her late husband is palpably present. Hampl captures art of day dreaming with astonishing simplicity and clarity in this remarkable and touching book. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 01/08/2018
Release date: 04/17/2018
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