Friday, July 20, 2007

At Large and at Small

I read Anne Fadiman's excellent collection of essays on books and reading, Ex Libris, several years ago after shuttsie recommended it. This book is a collection of what Fadiman calls familiar essays--more personal than a critical essay but more expansive than a personal, navel-gazing one. The scope of these essays range from the everyday subjects of coffee and ice cream to the more highbrow--Charles Lamb and Samuel Coleridge. The standout for me was probably the last essay about a canoing trip gone wrong. It is probably the shortest essay in the book, but for me the most resonant. They are all well-written and even the ones I had no interest in (Charles Lamb, say) have an insight or sentence that stands out. But while Ex Libris was the perfect marriage of an excellent writer and a subject I care passionately about (books!) this one was a bit more one-sided.

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