Endangered Pleasures: In Defense of Naps, Bacon, Martinis, Profanity, and Other Indulgences

Endangered Pleasures: In Defense of Naps, Bacon, Martinis, Profanity, and Other Indulgences

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by Barbara Holland
     
 

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The minute the alarm clock punctures our dreams, we go to work. We have convinced ourselves that productivity is the name of the game and that leisure is a notorious sign of laziness. In Endangered Pleasures, Barbara Holland insists that enough is enough. It's time to kick back, relax, and relish the truly good things in life. "Delightfully quirky".—The Boston

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Overview

The minute the alarm clock punctures our dreams, we go to work. We have convinced ourselves that productivity is the name of the game and that leisure is a notorious sign of laziness. In Endangered Pleasures, Barbara Holland insists that enough is enough. It's time to kick back, relax, and relish the truly good things in life. "Delightfully quirky".—The Boston Globe.

Editorial Reviews

Boston Globe
An engaging reminder of...the simple plasures of life that are slipping away as we move faster and work harder.
Washington Post Book World
So pleasingly subversive that the reader falls into a reverie of his own remembered pleasures.
Raleigh News and Observer
[Laugh] in marvel at the degree to which Ms. Holland captures on paper the many delights in life.
Russell Barker
Shamelessly advocates all the pleasures that have fallen into low repute since modern Puritanism cast its pall over the country.
Publishers Weekly - Cahners\\Publishers_Weekly
"Perhaps it's a good time to reconsider pleasure at its roots," declares Holland (Secrets of the Cat), introducing this collection of entertaining, genteel meditations. As the subtitle hints, the author, living in the Virginia countryside, is no sybaritic renegade but a woman who can find happiness in antinomies like "Working" and "Not Working," "Buying Things" and "Saving Money," and "Going Out" and "Staying In." She writes with conversational ease, and some observations linger: To the miserly, "a penny spent is a penny mourned"; mail is "one of life's small recurring pleasures"; sports, "unlike life, are played according to rules." Holland even reveals that she drives without using her seat belt. Illustrations.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
``Perhaps it's a good time to reconsider pleasure at its roots,'' declares Holland (Secrets of the Cat), introducing this collection of entertaining, genteel meditations. As the subtitle hints, the author, living in the Virginia countryside, is no sybaritic renegade but a woman who can find happiness in antinomies like ``Working'' and ``Not Working,'' ``Buying Things'' and ``Saving Money,'' and ``Going Out'' and ``Staying In.'' She writes with conversational ease, and some observations linger: To the miserly, ``a penny spent is a penny mourned''; mail is ``one of life's small recurring pleasures''; sports, ``unlike life, are played according to rules.'' Holland even reveals that she drives without using her seat belt. Illustrations. (Mar.)
Gilbert Taylor
Holland starts off with tributes to sunrise and coffee, moves on to clothing, and then directly into more hedonistic pleasures, such as happy hour, porters, cruises, and gambling, in these to-the-point, frequently wicked essays. The author thumbs her nose at the exercise-prone, cholesterol-conscious, low-impact society she finds herself amid. A refreshing change of pace. REVWR Denise Perry Donavin *** BOR H1 Adult Books H2 Nonfiction H3 History AUTH AUTH2 ILLUS TITLE In Their Own Words TITLR Civil War Commanders 245C Ed. by T. J. Stiles PUBD Apr. 1995 PAGES 352p PHD illus. PUBL Putnam/Perigee FORM paper PRICE $14 ISBN (0-399-51909-2) FORM2 PRICE2 ISBN2 RFORM CAT 973.7'81 U.S.--History--Civil War, 1861.-1865--Personal narratives 94-27322 REVIEW Excerpted from the memoirs of a dozen generals and admirals of the Blue and Gray, these passages describe, or defend, the officers' conduct in the war's most famous battles. Here's McClellan justifying his letting Lee escape from bloody Antietam, Longstreet explaining his defeat at Little Round Top, and Grant accepting the Confederate surrender at Appomattox. Whatever the specific incident, buffs deeply dyed with background knowledge are best equipped to make sense of them, for a general, even in retrospect, sees only a portion of the whole battle. Readers not quite as dedicated will nevertheless partake of the tenor the writings impart of those tempestuous times, of doleful descriptions of the detritus of battle such as Grant's remarks about the dead at Shiloh being so thick one could cross a field upon them without touching the ground. Forty maps, simply reprinted from the original memoirs, it appears, adorn this inexpensive collection; suitable for strapped libraries that don't plan to buy unabridged reminiscences by Sherman, Johnston, Sheridan, etc.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780316370578
Publisher:
Little, Brown and Company
Publication date:
03/01/1995
Series:
Endangered Pleasures Series
Edition description:
1st edition
Pages:
192
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.56(d)
Age Range:
13 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Obviously the best possible time to wake up is in the June of our tenth year, on the first day of summer vacation. Failing that, another good time is in winter, facing east on the only bright morning in a long string of dark ones.

I did it recently, while visiting a country friend. She'd thoughtfully put me to bed in a tiny southeastern room with deep windows, so the bed was at sill level, and I woke up covered all over with the low yellow winter sunlight, as if Zeus had descended in a shower of gold and I would presently give birth to a minor goddess. Never underestimate the power of daylight in December.

In a window is a good place to wake up. For years in the city I lived in a small old rowhouse with low windows and slept at the windowsill, twelve feet straight up from the sidewalk. In the morning I could check the day from my pillow; the state of the sky; whether the people across the street had raised their upstairs blinds yet; whether the pedestrians wore their coats open or buttoned tightly. A window is the world's threshold, or vestibule. Some misguided hearties claim to enjoy waking up outdoors, completely in the world, participants instead of spectators, but this is too much responsibility for me at that hour. Too much sky. The room around us is our cave and protection—our sleep, so to speak—and the window is the world and the day ahead, or the waking state, and we lie there balanced at the transition between them. This is a good and gentle way to reenter the daily life,

Which brings up the subject of how to wake painlessly at the appointed hour. The same country friend, who has virtuously given upeating eggs, keeps chickens around anyway because she likes to hear the roosters crowing. A rooster is the classic and one of the pleasanter ways to be dragged out of sleep, or would be if he were more reliable. Some roosters don't crow until noon, and then keep it up till dinnertime. Most of them, in May and June, carry on hysterically at the first gray of dawn, which is no time for sane folk to be abroad. You can't count on a rooster, and many of us aren't in a position to keep one in the apartment anyway. We have alarm clocks, or clock radios.

Those who are seriously anti-pleasure go for a loud, angry, relentless ringing or buzzing sound to rend the soft rosy fabric of sleep and yank them into the day. This satisfies their masochism and leaves their nerves twitching till noon. A modern variation on this produces a thin electronic whine that can easily be silenced by the sleeper and then, five minutes later, another, more insistent whine. This has the advantage of letting us slip back into sleep—one of life's purer pleasures—over and over, with the disadvantage of being a thoroughly mean and hateful sound. Why not bells, for heaven's sake? Distant church bells, or chimes, or a far-off trumpet solo, or a mockingbird, or a fife-and-drum corps, or even a rooster, reliably prerecorded? Too pleasant, I suppose; inconsistent with the stern realities of the day ahead. Besides, we might just lie there happily listening to them for hours.

We might, if we've prudently supplied ourselves with an attractive warm body in the bed beside us, be inspired by bells and roosters to make love instead of leaping out of bed, and having done so, drift sweetly back to sleep.

The alternative to alarms is the clock radio, set the night before to whichever station we choose to reach into our naked, bemused, and vulnerable inner selves and snatch us forth like a snail winkled from its shell. Set it to the wrong number and heavy-metal rock will blast you across the room at dawn and leave you trembling like a leaf, unable even to pour coffee. On the other hand, a symphony may not do the trick at all. Glance around the concert hall. Many people would actually rather sleep to classical music, even sitting upright, than to silence. I tried the all-news station for a while, but this wasn't quite satisfactory either. A voice, usually a stem and solemn, rather biblical voice, pounced on me, either from on high or from under the bed, bearing inscrutable messages: ". . . thirteen killed and twenty-three injured" or ". . . in the right-hand lane. Traffic is backed up to Swedesford Road in Centerville. . . ." This always snapped me to attention, bewildered: Why is he telling me? Is it my fault? My responsibility? What must I do? Who is he and how did he get into my room?

The only truly pleasurable answer is to sleep until we float gradually, swinging in and out of consciousness, to the surface, and lie there smiling at the ceiling, afloat under weightless goose down in winter, a soft white cotton sheet in summer, until it seems good to get out of bed. This is a joy we should seize whenever possible, making a conscious effort not to think about money or errands or anything at all until we're actually up and at the coffee pot. Some people—I was married to one of them—find this so enjoyable as to be quite viciously decadent, and they spring up at once, checking the clock and berating themselves, and rush to the shower, though they have nothing at all to do until Monday morning.

The rest of us count not getting out of bed as the best part of waking up.

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