BN.com Gift Guide

Year of Reading Proust: A Memoir in Real Time

Overview

You don't have to live through an unhappy childhood or a celebrity adulthood to write an autobiography. You need patience, an almost reckless candor, and a close-to-scientific pursuit of truth. This is what Rose learned from Proust, and she puts the hypothesis to the test in The Year of Reading Proust. Opening with a bravura description of the experience of reading In Search of Lost Time - which freed her to write about her own life - she goes on to describe experiences as ordinary as channel surfing and as ...
See more details below
Paperback (1ST COUNTE)
$13.51
BN.com price
(Save 9%)$15.00 List Price

Pick Up In Store

Reserve and pick up in 60 minutes at your local store

Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (45) from $1.99   
  • New (9) from $5.00   
  • Used (36) from $1.99   
Sending request ...

Overview

You don't have to live through an unhappy childhood or a celebrity adulthood to write an autobiography. You need patience, an almost reckless candor, and a close-to-scientific pursuit of truth. This is what Rose learned from Proust, and she puts the hypothesis to the test in The Year of Reading Proust. Opening with a bravura description of the experience of reading In Search of Lost Time - which freed her to write about her own life - she goes on to describe experiences as ordinary as channel surfing and as remarkable as a visit to a hermit. In a work that's striking in its honesty, she writes about marriage, friendship, childbirth, and intimations of mortality. She tells the story of a failed romance and enduring friendship with a man who happens to be gay; of caring for an elderly mother who gets sharper mentally as her body decays; and of giving a dinner party for a guest whose identity is unknown. Kaleidoscopically, with wit and insight, Rose provides a model for the enjoyment of daily life as she writes about her days on a college campus, in the city, in a winter writer's roost. Each chapter is keyed to another book that was important to the author during her year of reading Proust, and she moves from daily experience to what she's read and back again in subtle celebration of how books can help you live.
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This memoir starts with a prologue and first chapter that are so lovely, it makes the 200-plus remaining pages pallid by comparison. Rose starts by recounting her spotty career with Proust and her determination, finally, to soldier through In Search of Lost Time. Her recollection in these few pages is insightful, well written and appealingly modest. For a brief moment, she seems about to follow the tack taken by Alain de Botton's delightful How Proust Can Change Your Life: "Rapidly," she says, "I began applying the fruits of Proust's research to my own life." She also muses on Proust's use of such devices as paradox or epic simile and how they enriched her life. But from there on it's almost entirely strict memoir and Rose (Parallel Lives), who is so skillful at understanding the subtleties of other people's lives, doesn't have the same touch with her own. There are fine moments of self-revelation (particularly in her eventual acceptance of the fact that she had a happy childhood), but too often she veers discomfittingly close to unflattering self-absorption. In these instances, Rose talks about how she, an artist, deals with the importune questions of those who are not; or mistakes brand names for telling detail (she wanted a Mercedes but settled on a Saab before heading off to Il Cantinori for a Pinot Grigio); or reports on her lengthy free-association sessions. Early on, Rose points out how easily Proust moves from the particular to the general, from the small to the grand. Unfortunately, Rose's small points tend to stay that way. (Oct.)
Library Journal
A writer (Parallel Lives: Five Victorian Marriages, LJ 10/1/83) and professor at Wesleyan University, Rose finally buckled down to read Proustand rediscovered her own past.
Kirkus Reviews
Proust is less the subject of Rose's pleasurable, rambling memoir than its guiding spirit, whose wisdom and worldview Rose invokes as she reviews the travails and satisfactions of a year in her life.

A row with her Key West landlady involving potted palms and banana treees; hectic preparations for a dinner honoring a mystery guest (who turns out to be Salman Rushdie); her friend Annie Dillard's cancer scare; and her own mother's halting progress toward death—these and other events take biographer Rose (Jazz Cleopatra: Josephine Baker in Her Time, 1989, etc.) into a Proustian blend of social gossip (mostly of literary Key West) and a remembrance of things in her own past. The passing of time, the attempt to transcend it (in collecting antiquities), the need to create something original before it is too late, and the immense difficulty of doing so, are among the novelist's themes that resonate for Rose. Most affecting is her newfound appreciation of the middle-class suburban 1950s childhood she had long reviled: "I never `understood' my childhood because I never understood what a happy childhood it was." This encounter with her past culminates in a visit with her sister to their childhood home for the first time in 36 years. Unlike the fictional Marcel, who returns to Paris after a long absence and finds it much changed, Rose finds the house miraculously preserved, like a museum of her childhood, thus bringing no epiphany but merely the satisfaction of memories confirmed. Still, while there is much to savor here, there are disappointments, an occasional sense of incompleteness; we learn more, for instance, about the social hubbub over her dinner for Rushdie than we do about the writer himself.

Perhaps the best part of the book is its opening chapter, in which Rose, having overcome her own inability to penetrate Proust, explains richly how one can do so, and why it is worthwhile.

From Barnes & Noble
The author of Parallel Lives and Jazz Cleopatra, among other books, reflects upon reading Proust in middle age, how In Search of Lost Time freed her to put her own story to paper. Phyllis Rose delivers this touching autobiography that not only connects readers to her experiences in marriage, friendship, childhood, childbirth, and issues of mortality, but the books that she has read along the way that have given the journey of life more meaning and clarity.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781582430553
  • Publisher: Counterpoint Press
  • Publication date: 1/28/2000
  • Edition description: 1ST COUNTE
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 782,930
  • Product dimensions: 5.49 (w) x 8.25 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Table of Contents

Prologue: Our Hearts Were Young and Gay 9
Chapter 1 Reading Proust 15
Chapter 2 TV Guide 35
Chapter 3 Ancient Glass 59
Chapter 4 How We Die 83
Chapter 5 Estrogen 115
Chapter 6 Skinned Alive 139
Chapter 7 The Who-Needs-Mother Cookbook 167
Chapter 8 Florida Landscape Plants 197
Chapter 9 An Unwritten Novel 229
Recommended Reading 257
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 7, 2001

    couldn't put it down

    I had read parallel lives and enjoyed it very much, but the Year of Reading Proust, which is a memoir, is a literary accomplishment. One of the best memoirs I have ever read.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)