Essays After Eighty (Hardcover)

By Donald Hall

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 9780544287044, 144pp.

Publication Date: December 2, 2014

List Price: 22.00*
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Description

From a former Poet Laureate, a new collection of essays delivering a gloriously unexpected view from the vantage point of very old age
 
Donald Hall lived a remarkable life of letters, a career capped by a National Medal of the Arts, awarded by the president. Here, in the “unknown, unanticipated galaxy” of very old age, his essays startle, move, and delight. In the transgressive and horrifyingly funny “No Smoking,” he looks back over his lifetime, and several of his ancestors’ lifetimes, of smoking unfiltered cigarettes, packs of them every day. Hall paints his past: “Decades followed each other — thirty was terrifying, forty I never noticed because I was drunk, fifty was best with a total change of life, sixty extended the bliss of fifty . . .” And, poignantly, often joyfully, he limns his present: “When I turned eighty and rubbed testosterone on my chest, my beard roared like a lion and gained four inches.” Most memorably, Hall writes about his enduring love affair with his ancestral Eagle Pond Farm and with the writing life that sustains him, every day: “Yesterday my first nap was at 9:30 a.m., but when I awoke I wrote again.”


About the Author

DONALD HALL (1928-2018) served as poet laureate of the United States from 2006 to 2007. He was a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and a recipient of the National Medal of the Arts, awarded by the president.



Praise For Essays After Eighty

"As this book shows, Hall...has not lost his touch. Laconic, witty, and lyrical, Hall is a master stylist, yet he remains refreshingly humble and matter-of-fact ...By exploring the joys and vicissitudes of a long life, this work offers revealing insights into the human condition—and the grit and openness it requires." --Publishers Weekly, starred review
 
"The writing life at age 85...[A] sense of joy infuses these gentle essays. "Old age sits in a chair," writes Hall, "writing a little and diminishing." For the author, writing has been, and continues to be, his passionate revenge against diminishing. " --Kirkus Reviews

"Wry, tangy prose...Many readers may find themselves hoping they’ll be this cogent and canny when they’re “after 80.” --Booklist

"Deliciously readable...Donald Hall, if abandoned by the muse of poetry, has wrought his prose to a keen autumnal edge."--Wall Street Journal
 
"alternately lyrical and laugh-out-loud funny...seductive frankness and bracing precision."--New York Times Science Times
 
"alluring, inspirational hominess....Essays After Eighty is a treasure...balancing frankness about losses with humor and gratitude."--Washington Post
 
"In this collection of 14 essays, the literary lion chews over his life-in-letters with a deft wit...[Hall] is caustic, funny, wise without being didactic, and even sexy."--Chicago Tribune
 
"instinct with humor and mischievousness...A fine book of remembering all sorts of things past, Essays After Eighty is to be treasured."--Boston Globe
 
"refreshingly direct, efficient, down-to-earth (also earthy), and witty...These deeply human moments enlighten — even comfort the reader — when Donald Hall converts them into engaging and memorable language...Essays After Eighty is lively testimony to his having done the one thing he always wanted to do — write it! — and doing it better than most of us can even dream of doing."--Los Angeles Review of Books

"Donald Hall is a master of language, observation and surprise...poignant and blunt...Hall is reliably colorful and eloquent across the board."--Portland Press Herald
 
"The prose of Essays After Eighty is a poet’s prose. Hall is working with sentence and paragraph, not line and stanza, but every word counts. Concrete images propel his sentences, and he is a master of momentum and suspense. The reader sees or tastes a moment and yearns to know what happens next."--Concord Monitor



Coverage from NPR