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A Line Out for a Walk: Familiar Essays
     

A Line Out for a Walk: Familiar Essays

by Joseph Epstein
 
“[His] way with the familiar essay—that flexible, forgiving genre in which anything goes except charmlessness and anonymity—has much in common with that of Messrs, Beerbohm, Liebling, and Mencken. Each piece is exquisitely sustained, moving from point to point with the relaxed economy of a pro.” —Wall Street Journal
Paul Klee's words on

Overview

“[His] way with the familiar essay—that flexible, forgiving genre in which anything goes except charmlessness and anonymity—has much in common with that of Messrs, Beerbohm, Liebling, and Mencken. Each piece is exquisitely sustained, moving from point to point with the relaxed economy of a pro.” —Wall Street Journal
Paul Klee's words on his art, "I take a line out for a walk," describe precisely what the author of these essays does—he takes out such "lines" as gossip, gambling, height (or the lack of it), hats, smoking, fame or compulsive reading and "walks them" in his own discursive style.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The ``lines'' that Epstein ( The Middle of My Tether ) here takes out for walks are his subjects, and where they will lead him he is ``unlikely to know in advance.'' Generally they include topics one doesn't encounter on the evening news, such as the etiquette of hats, the stomach needed for bigtime gambling and the author's years at the intensely intellectual University of Chicago--where the average undergraduate struck him as being ``someone from New York who had been reading the New Republic from the age of 11 and decided against going to an Ivy League school because they were all deemed too lightweight.'' His essays vary in complexity of structure, but all move from solitary observation to a larger meditation on life. To reveal more would erode the pleasure of reading Epstein, a writer at the top of his powers in these serious, funny, pleasantly unpredictable musings. (Apr.)
Library Journal
One of a handful of living Americans who have mastered the ``familiar'' essay, Epstein never fails to entertain as well as soothingly educate. His fine eye and sure hand roam widely, searching for subjects. Whether he happens to land in the middle of a political debate or just gives us a meditation on the fascinations of gambling, Epstein reveals a decisive wit, linguistic dexterity, and down-home, front-porch common sense. Readers need not agree with his carefully reasoned observations to enjoy his well-polished style. Epstein, editor of The American Scholar , has published two other volumes of excellent familiar essays ( The Middle of My Tether: Familiar Essays , Norton, 1983; Partial Payments: Essays Arising from the Pleasures of Reading , LJ 12/1/88) as well as two collections of literary essays ( Plausible Prejudices: Essays on American Writing , LJ 2/1/85; Partial Payments: Essays on Writers & Their Lives , Norton, 1990). A book of his short stories will appear in 1991. Recommended.-- Vincent D. Balitas, Allentown Coll., Center Valley, Pa.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780393308549
Publisher:
Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date:
07/17/1992
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
336
Sales rank:
1,395,606
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.80(d)

Meet the Author

Joseph Epstein has been the editor of the American Scholar since 1975. His own books of essays include The Middle of My Tether, Once More Around the Block, A Line Out for a Walk, Pertinent Players, and With My Trousers Rolled (all published by Norton). He was guest editor for Best American Essays (1993) and teaches at Northwestern University. He lives in Evanston, Illinois.

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