Roger Angell, the acclaimed New Yorker writer and editor, returns with a selection of writings that celebrate a view from the tenth decade of an engaged, vibrant life.
Long known for his range and supple prose (he is the only writer elected to membership in both the Baseball Hall of Fame and the American Academy of Arts and Letters), Angell won the 2015 American Society of Magazine Editors' Best Essay award for "This Old Man", which forms a centerpiece for this audiobook. This deeply personal account is a survey of the limitations and discoveries of great age, with abundant life, poignant loss, jokes, retrieved moments, and fresh love, set down in an informal and moving fashion. A flood of listeners from different generations have discovered and shared this classic piece.
Angell's fluid prose and native curiosity make him an amiable and compelling companion. The book gathers essays, letters, light verse, book reviews, Talk of the Town stories, farewells, haikus, profiles, Christmas greetings, and late thoughts on the costs of war. Whether it's a Fourth of July in rural Maine, a beloved British author at work, Derek Jeter's departure, the final game of the 2014 World Series, an all-dog opera, editorial exchanges with John Updike, or a letter to a son, what links the pieces is the author's perceptions and humor, his utter absence of self-pity, and his appreciation of friends and colleagues - writers, ballplayers, editors, artists - encountered over the course of a full and generous life.
©2015 Roger Angell (P)2015 Random House Audio
"A miscellany of memorable prose...notable for its grace, wit, and humanity.... As this ebullient and eloquent collection amply shows, Angell can deftly touch that reader, on whom he bestows this lovely gift." (Kirkus)
"At 94, Angell is a witness to history but hardly a relic of the past.... Angell is equally at ease writing annual Christmas poems, witty internal memos, letters, haiku, speeches, literary essays, and "casuals".... Angell represents the best sort of writing about the remembrances of the past." (Publishers Weekly)
If you were expecting a bunch of baseball shorts skip ahead to chapter 75. There are 118 chapters in this selection of remembrances in the form of letters and obituaries. For an unknown reason even the longer pieces are broken into pieces no longer than ten minutes a chapter. Why they were cut like this is unknown also. Perhaps it is keeping with the pieces theme of the book. This rapid bouncing from subject to subject in such tiny pieces gets tedious after awhile.
Heed my advice from the first sentence about the baseball stuff. Why it is bunched to the back end is also a mystery. This unevenness and the short length of each chapter and the depressing and frequent subject matter of death made this a selection I would skip if I had the chance again
The title I selected or my alternative would have been "A National Treasure". Angell's writing is beautiful in its economy, and whether reading or being read to by a capable narrator like Arthur Morey, it's hard not to just sigh with contentment afterwards. I selected this title because I have read several of Angell's collections of baseball writings and, though baseball certainly dominates this latest title, it does not comprise the entirety. Certainly though, baseball is lucky to have such a gifted chronicler, and all the writers nourished by the guiding lights at the New Yorker like Angell owe much to a periodical that is absolutely legendary.
These plaudits aside, there is quite a bit of fluff here. There are a lot of blog postings, and reviews that are at best exemplars of wit, but there is also some that seem to be included as filler material. Don't let this very minor caveat dissuade you from this book. From stories about his mother and his legendary stepfather, E.B White, to musings about all things baseball (his piece on the steroid controversy is particularly good), you are in the company of one of the most fabulously literate observers of America of the past fifty years.
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