Jan Morris. Liveright, $24.95 (264p) ISBN 978-0-87140-414-5
This shrewd posthumous collection from Morris (1926–2020) (Thinking Again) showcases the prolific writer’s personal musings and memories. The 45 essays are bite-size, and in the foreword, Morris calls the entries her most personal. True to her oeuvre, the pieces include travelogues, tributes to great ships, and odes to glimmering cities, and also dig into her own life. “Dreaming Dreams” sees Morris recounting a dream that coaxed a confession of an “unlovely habit,” nose-picking as an adult, which in turn leads to a stream of thoughts on memory, shame, mortality. “Transcendental Town” covers her fascination with Tournus, France, while “Invisible Loyalty” sheds light on her position as a Welsh-English “culturist” (rather than nationalist). Morris’s meditations are consistently charming—in “Sneezing,” she writes that “among all [the] clearances, the sneeze stands alone.” “The Nijinksi of Grammar,” meanwhile, is an ode to the “graceful” exclamation point. Where these snapshots come together is in Morris’s steady unwinding of her idea that life is never what it seems, that imagination plays a role in constructing reality, and that living is a “majestically impenetrable allegory.” Morris’s fans will love these essays, and she’s bound to win new devotees, too, with a parting gift that’s gently wise and emotionally stirring. Agent: Caroline Dawnay, United Agents. (Apr.)
Reviewed on : 04/06/2021
Release date: 04/01/2021
Genre: Nonfiction
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