Monthly Archives: June 2009

Anne Fadiman, At Large and at Small: Confessions of a Literary Hedonist

If you’ve read Ex Libris by the same author you’ll know that she would like to revive the now rather neglected genre of the short essay, in the tradition of Lamb, who is the subject of one of the essays in this volume.

The dozen pieces are mostly light in tone, though one strikes a more sombre note. Foodstuffs feature strongly, and the transatlantic cultural gap occasionally makes itself felt; I can’t imagine consuming a pint of ice cream in one go, and is it really in doubt that the Italians are best at making it (p. 50)?

The longer essay ‘Procrustes and the Culture Wars’ doesn’t quite seem to belong, and betrays its origin as a series of lectures given to Phi Beta Kappa students. All the others can be dipped into and read in an odd half-hour, in any order.

The author’s father might have been spared some sleeplessness (in the anecdote related on p. 68) if he had thought of Zinfandel, or the biblical Zerubabbel.

  • Publisher: Allen Lane (1 Nov 2007)
  • ISBN-10: 1846140439
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846140433
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