One-Minute Book Reviews

April 27, 2010

Hot Air Blows in From Academia – Quote of the Day / Ben Yagoda in ‘Memoir: A History’

Filed under: Memoirs,Nonfiction,Quotes of the Day — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 1:12 am
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Ben Yagoda writes in his recent Memoir: A History (Riverhead, 291 pp., $25.95), a survey of personal narratives the from 5th-century Confessions of St. Augustine to the present:

“In the 1980s, an unfamiliar pronoun began to appear in works of academic philosophy, history, literary criticism, anthropology, and other fields: ‘I.’ An especially popular formation was ‘I want to argue that,’ introducing a clause that, twenty years earlier, would have been the entire sentence.”

April 8, 2008

Remembering When Talking About Your Children Was Taboo at Dinner Parties – Phyllis Theroux’s ‘Peripheral Visions’

Filed under: Essays and Reviews — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 4:47 pm
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I came across this startling line while rereading Phyllis Theroux’s, Peripheral Visions (Morrow, 1982), one of best essay collections of the 1980s:

“There’s no quicker route to poor opinion than to be at a dinner party and say brightly at table, ‘Guess what our Jeremy said today?’ Children are taboo at dinner parties … “

Theroux wrote those words while living in Washington, D.C., where the table talk is sometimes as carefully choreographed as the second act of Swan Lake. But her comment suggests how tolerant of parental boasting our culture has become since her book appeared. When was the last time you went to a dinner party and didn’t hear a parent say, in effect, “Guess what our Jeremy said today?”

Credit: Photo from the site for Theroux’s Nightwriters seminars and retreats for writers www.nightwriters.com. The next seminar will take place in Sonoma County May 4–9, 2008. I have ‘t attended one of these programs. But Theroux is a fine, highly respected writer who seems to keep the size of her seminars small enough that you’ll get personal attention. And the price isn’t much higher than for a comparable number of nights in a good hotel. I’d check out her site if you’re looking for a writers’ retreat with a difference.

© 2008 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

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