Book of Days
Publication Date: August 17, 2010
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The sexual politics of a faculty wives dinner. The psychological gamesmanship of an inappropriate therapist. The emotional minefield of an extended family wedding . . .
Whatever the subject, Emily Fox Gordon’s disarmingly personal essays are an art form unto themselves—reflecting and revealing, like mirrors in a maze, the seemingly endless ways a woman can lose herself in the modern world. With piercing humor and merciless precision, Gordon zigzags her way through “the unevolved paradise” of academia, with its dying breeds of bohemians, adulterers, and flirts, then stumbles through the perils and pleasures of psychotherapy, hoping to find a narrative for her life. Along the way, she encounters textbook feminists, partying philosophers, perfectionist moms, and an unlikely kinship with Kafka—in a brilliant collection of essays that challenge our sacred institutions, defy our expectations, and define our lives.
Emily Fox Gordon is an award-winning essayist and the author of the novel It will Come to Me, and two memoirs, Mockingbird Years: A Life In and Out of Therapy and Are you Happy?: A Childhood Remembered. Her work had appeared in American Scholar, Time, Pushcart Prize Anthology XXIII and XXIX, the New York Times Book Review, Boulevard, and Salmagundi. She lives in Houston.
“The best of these ten essays combine the details of memory with reflective insight and a command of tone that resists cliché, while refusing to settle into simplistic understanding. … Whether she’s explaining her affinity for Kafka or exploring the tribal rituals of faculty wives—her husband is a professor, as her father was—Gordon writes with flinty humor, unsentimental precision and a refusal to let herself or anyone else off too easily.”
“Emily Fox Gordon’s essays make me want to curl up inside them and keep on reading for as long as I can. She writes with candor, wit, and insight about common and uncommon occurrences, whether it be her husband’s colonoscopy or her decades-long therapy experience. Her ability to sound out the truth about the coded world of academe or the pleasure to be found in long-running marriages makes her a bracing and welcome guide through the thickets of contemporary life.”
"In one of this book's fine essays, Emily Fox Gordon observes drily that calling oneself a born personal essayist is like calling oneself a born éminence grise. Maybe so—but if there were ever a writer born to this genre, it's Gordon, who can simultaneously strip herself bare and turn an unforgettable phrase."
“Good writing is itself a moral virtue. Wit, complexity, and detail are its outward signs, and [Gordon’s work] shines with them.”
—The New Yorker
“Emily Fox Gordon’s writing combines remarkable intelligence—a critical eye, a complex wit—with extraordinary candor and vulnerability.”