Balancing Acts

Balancing Acts

by Edward Hoagland
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

Alfred Kazin once said that Edward Hoagland is "a writer born, a writer obsessed." The Washington Post called him "the Thoreau of our time, an essayist so intensely personal, so sharp-eyed and deep-sighted, so tender and tough, lyrical and elegiac as to transmute a simple stroll into a full-blown mystical experience." Here, for the first time in a decade, is a major… See more details below

Overview

Alfred Kazin once said that Edward Hoagland is "a writer born, a writer obsessed." The Washington Post called him "the Thoreau of our time, an essayist so intensely personal, so sharp-eyed and deep-sighted, so tender and tough, lyrical and elegiac as to transmute a simple stroll into a full-blown mystical experience." Here, for the first time in a decade, is a major new collection of essays from the man John Updike called "the best essayist of my generation." This diverse and inspired collection of essays displays all of Hoagland's signature qualities: intimacy, virtuosity, eccentricity, and abiding originality. Though its pieces have breathtaking range, each involves discovery - of landscapes, thoughts, emotions. Hoagland takes us into the rainforest in Belize, the mountains of Yemen, the Okefenokee Swamp, and "Up the Black to Chalkyitsik." With equal passion, he guides us through treacherous terrain in probing essays about the literary world. Part memoir, part travel guide, these twenty-five essays, (all written with a good deal of urgency and fun) represent the work of a master at the top of his dazzling form.

Read More

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The gems of this collection are the travel pieces (Hoagland describes himself as a chronicler of other peoples' vacations). He takes us on a train ride across the U.S., to the rain forests of Belize, the mountains of North Yemen, to Alaska and into the Okefenokee Swamp. He attends a cowboy-poet's convention in Elko, Nev., and accompanies his daughter on a trail trip in Wyoming. Author of Seven Rivers West and Heart's Desire , Hoagland pays tribute to naturalist writer and novelist Edward Abbey, discusses his literary heroes at various periods in his life and reminisces about his family and events in his childhood. Other essays reflect on the current literary scene and how political revolutions affect writers. This diverse and diverting collection surely will be read with pleasure. (Nov.)
Library Journal - Library Journal
Hoagland, author of Heart's Desire: The Best of Edward Hoagland ( LJ 9/15/88) and The Final Fate of the Alligators ( LJ 2/1/92), offers a wonderful assortment of essays with a broad range of themes. The most common threads here are travel, nature, and literature. The first essay, ``West on the Zephyr,'' is about a train trip to California, and like a train trip, it slows things down and gives the reader a chance to study the landscape and its people. ``Learning To Eat Soup'' is a departure from the regular essay form; it gathers together short snapshots of thoughts, observations, and facts that surprise and at times delight. Hoagland has the unique power of drawing the reader into his world. In his foreword, he describes an essayist as someone who has a broad range of talents and opinions, ``a man for all seasons,'' who can write the things that we almost thought to say ourselves. He does that very well and obviously has fun doing it. Highly recommended for public libraries.-- Lisa J. Cochenet, Rhinelander Dist. Lib., Wis.
Roland Wulbert
Satisfying virtuosity by the foremost essayist in America. For example, writing about the subcultures that make up Alaska and those cultures' manifold perspectives on the state, Hoagland does not shy away from unpalatable truths about social and political relations--nor about himself. What other writer can match the conciseness of his self-revelations--or their quality? He exposes his private life as few others dare, and yet he is never in any colloquial sense confessional: he never invites pity, never cares to shock. Other essays include book reviews; accounts of a convention of cowboy poets, of trips on trains and boats, of travels in Yemen, Belize, and Manhattan; and analyses of John Muir and Thoreau. Hoagland loves words, has fun with dated idioms ("I hanker to", "an ace at", "slugabed", etc.). Moreover, he does his historical research, and he's willing to take physical risks: sharing some qat with a hitchhiker in Yemen, he estimates that with his two guns and the hiker's grenade, "we could put up a brief fight if his village's enemies should corner us." With its earned wisdom, graphic evocations, and tough-minded lyricism, his work is hard to put down.
Noel Perron
The best [essays] he has ever written. - Boston Globe
Philip Roth
America�s most intelligent and wide-ranging essayist-naturalist. - Times (London)
Wallace Stegner
Literally, we are plunged and immersed in the Yukon or Yemen or Belize and made not only to experience it and hear about it but to absorb and understand it. - Washington Post

Read More

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780671746810
Publisher:
Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing Group
Publication date:
12/01/1992
Pages:
352

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >