A Carnival of Losses - Donald Hall

Staff Pick

Funny, spirited, touching—this is vintage Donald Hall. His outlook is signaled in the first essay, where being old is described as a state in which “you learn” about the world in new ways—even if it’s just that “you learn it’s May by noticing that daffodils erupt outside your window.”  Being old does not mean that you just hang around passively, and “when an essay of reminiscence takes eighty-four drafts,” Hall is being anything but passive.  He’s also as honest as he is humorous; yes, being old also means naps and a compulsion to notice how and at what age people die. It means easy things are now hard and hard things are impossible. It means younger people stop seeing you.  But most of all, it means there are more memories to draw on. This collection chronicles people and places that will be familiar from Hall’s earlier poems and essays, and if he reiterates themes, he offers fresh observations—he’s never seen things from a nonagenarian’s perspective, after all—and tells new stories. These mostly brief anecdotes, profiles, and impressions are as sharply observed and wittily reported as ever, whether from Hall’s childhood, his marriages, or last week. Since writing is exhausting, he makes the most of every sentence, capturing writers as varied as Bellow, Pound, Dickey, and Faulkner at a glance. Hall had a long and rich life, and these essays splendidly curate the treasures, giving the title’s “losses” a distinctly bittersweet edge.

A Carnival of Losses: Notes Nearing Ninety Cover Image
ISBN: 9781328826343
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt - July 10th, 2018

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