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Balancing Acts

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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 ...
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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.
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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
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.
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
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780671872359
  • Publisher: Touchstone
  • Publication date: 11/28/1993
  • Pages: 352

Table of Contents

Foreword 9
West on the Zephyr 11
From Canada, by Land 39
Up the Black to Chalkyitsik 48
In Praise of John Muir 106
Holy Fools 122
Maximize 130
Balancing Act 133
The Circus of Dr. Lao 136
Replicas 144
New York Blues 148
About H. D. Thoreau 157
That Which I Saw 167
Wowlas and Coral 171
Africa Brought Home 196
Arabia Felix 201
Buckaroo Poets 245
Abbey's Road 251
O Wyoming 259
Learning to Eat Soup 279
Incomparable Land 295
The Job Is to Pour Your Heart Out 301
In Okefenokee 311
Revolution 330
Revolution II, the Sequel 341
Reunion 345
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