The Art of the Wasted Day (Hardcover)

By Patricia Hampl

Viking, 9780525429647, 288pp.

Publication Date: April 17, 2018

List Price: 26.00*
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Description

"A sharp and unconventional book -- a swirl of memoir, travelogue and biography of some of history's champion day-dreamers." --Maureen Corrigan, "Fresh Air"

A spirited inquiry into the lost value of leisure and daydream

The Art of the Wasted Day is a picaresque travelogue of leisure written from a lifelong enchantment with solitude. Patricia Hampl visits the homes of historic exemplars of ease who made repose a goal, even an art form. She begins with two celebrated eighteenth-century Irish ladies who ran off to live a life of "retirement" in rural Wales. Her search then leads to Moravia to consider the monk-geneticist, Gregor Mendel, and finally to Bordeaux for Michel Montaigne--the hero of this book--who retreated from court life to sit in his chateau tower and write about whatever passed through his mind, thus inventing the personal essay.

Hampl's own life winds through these pilgrimages, from childhood days lazing under a neighbor's beechnut tree, to a fascination with monastic life, and then to love--and the loss of that love which forms this book's silver thread of inquiry. Finally, a remembered journey down the Mississippi near home in an old cabin cruiser with her husband turns out, after all her international quests, to be the great adventure of her life.

The real job of being human, Hampl finds, is getting lost in thought, something only leisure can provide. The Art of the Wasted Day is a compelling celebration of the purpose and appeal of letting go.


About the Author

Patricia Hampl first stepped onto the literary scene with A Romantic Education, a Cold War memoir about her Czech heritage. Four of her books have been named Notable Books of the Year by The New York Times Book Review. Hampl's work has appeared in The New Yorker, Paris Review, Granta, The American Scholar, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Best American Short Stories and Best American Essays. In 1990 she was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship. In addition, she has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, Bush Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts (twice, in poetry and prose), Ingram Merrill Foundation and Djerassi Foundation. Hampl teaches fall semesters in the English MFA program at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis.


Coverage from NPR