A Skeptic's Guide to Writers' Houses

A Skeptic's Guide to Writers' Houses

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by Anne Trubek
     
 

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Why is it that we visit writers' houses? Although admittedly skeptical about the stories these buildings tell us about their former inhabitants, Anne Trubek carries us along as she falls at least a little bit in love with each stop on her itinerary and finds in each some truth about literature, history, and contemporary America.

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Overview

Why is it that we visit writers' houses? Although admittedly skeptical about the stories these buildings tell us about their former inhabitants, Anne Trubek carries us along as she falls at least a little bit in love with each stop on her itinerary and finds in each some truth about literature, history, and contemporary America.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The phenomenon of visiting writers' houses as a form of literary homage has existed for centuries, as literary enthusiasts have toured the homes of Shakespeare and countless other writers to connect, become inspired, or pay tribute. Trubek (Writing Material) offers an amusingly jaundiced eye towards this notion by visiting the homes of several writers, from of Louisa May Alcott to Hemingway to Poe, in an attempt to discover what draws people in and what connection they might be able to experience from this much remove. The end result is an interesting jaunt through American literature and the American preoccupation with fashioning (and profiting from) sacred spaces, coupled with genuinely fascinating little-known biographical information about iconic authors. Trubek is brutally honest (and occasionally funny) about what does and does not feel meaningful, and her travelogue is well-written and quick. While she does seem to harp on the same themes again and again, occasional moments of genuine emotion make it worth the trip. Trubek does a great job of following a succinct formula and readers in search of an objective look at writers' houses worth visiting will find this a useful guide.
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From the Publisher

Named one of the seven best small-press books of the decade in a column in the Huffington Post

"Why do people visit writer's homes? What are they looking for and what do they hope to take away that isn't sold in the gift shop? This memoir-travelogue takes you from Thoreau's Concord to Hemingway's Key West, exploring the tracks authors and their fans have laid down over the years. Trubek is a sharp-eyed observer, and you'll wish you could have been her travel companion."—Lev Raphael, Huffington Post

"A remarkable book: part travelogue, part rant, part memoir, part literary analysis and urban history, it is like nothing else I've ever read. In wondering why we look to writers' houses for inspiration when we could be looking to the writers' work, Trubek has—with humor, with self-deprecation, even with occasional anger and sadness—reminded us why we need literature in the first place."—Brock Clarke, author of An Arsonist's Guide to Writers' Homes in New England

"An antic and intelligent antitravel guide, A Skeptic's Guide to Writer's Houses explores places that have served as pilgrimage sites, tokens of local pride and color, and zones that confound the canons of literary and historical interpretation. With a gimlet eye and indefatigable curiosity, Anne Trubek peers through the veil of domestic veneration that surrounds canonized authors and neglected masters alike. In the course of her skeptical odyssey, she discerns the curious ways in which we turn authors into household gods."—Matthew Battles, author of Library: An Unquiet History

Library Journal
By her own admission, Trubek (rhetoric & composition of English, Oberlin Coll.) is not a fan of writers' houses and affirms that this is not a travel guide to them. "I often find the experiences of visiting these houses deadening, so I kept asking others why they seek them out," she writes. "The truth is, I am addicted to these stories of spiritual fulfillment, the hushed performances of empathy, and the acts of supplication to the aura of creative genius I have found at the twenty or so writers' houses I have visited." Of those, she covers the haunts of Walt Whitman, Mark Twain, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Louisa May Alcott, Ernest Hemingway, Thomas Wolfe, Jack London, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Edgar Allan Poe, Charles Chesnutt, and Langston Hughes. VERDICT The book, true to its title, starts off snarkily enough. A bit of a spoilsport for those of us who like to go to writers' houses, Trubek redeems herself by the end. Recommended for readers who enjoy American literature or historical preservation.—Lee Arnold, Historical Soc. of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780812205817
Publisher:
University of Pennsylvania Press, Inc.
Publication date:
07/11/2011
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
176
File size:
1 MB

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