The Best of Pickering

Sam Pickering
Foreword by Jay Parini
More than two dozen essays visit the author's great themes -- family, nature, seizing the day, and the strange goings-on in Carthage, Tennessee

Description

From "Still Life":

"Last Saturday at noon I stretched out in the dell in my side yard. The daffodils which I planted last fall had begun to bloom, and I wanted to see what they looked like from the ground. Standing above them I was tempted to count blossoms. I wondered how many of the bulbs I had planted came up and if I had gotten 'good value.' On the ground concerns about money and bets disappeared. . . .Instead of passing unnoticed at my feet, colors were in my face, and the world seemed a patchwork of light."

Characters from Carthage, from "Magic":

"The trip to Nashville changed Hink, however. Nobody knew what happened. Perhaps he drank too much or 'bit off more than he could chaw,' as Googoo put it. Whatever the case, on returning Hink pronounced himself a Christian and started attending Slubey Garts's Tabernacle of Love. When Pharoah Parkus came over from Memphis to hold a baptizing, Hink was waiting on the riverbank Hink knew almost no doctrine, and when Pharoah asked him if he believed in Original Sin, he answered, 'yes, if it's lived up to.'"

From "Composing A Life":

"Like a good essay, the composed life has a beginning, middle, and definite ending. Youth can dream about the future and imagine a multitude of endings, and as a result usually can't write well. After forty, dreams stop and one buys life insurance. Instead of evoking visions of idyllic pleasure, the ellipsis that looms ahead leads only to an erasure and an empty notebook. For the writer beyond forty the end is clear and nothing can change it."

Sam Pickering is Professor of English at University of Connecticut in Storrs. He's the author of more than a dozen books of essays, including Trespassing, The Blue Caterpillar and Other Essays, and The Last Book. He is married and has three children.

Praise / Awards

  • "Pickering has all of Thurber's human, and he writes as well as E. B. White. He writes with passion, wit, and a strange personal note of self-mockery; he is humanely educated, wise, and capable of a wide range of stylistic effects."
    —Jay Parini
  • ". . . he writes in the tradition of Montaigne hammering together a ramshackle affair of surprising nooks, crannies and additions—all under the same roof."
    Oxford American
  • "Pickering has the natural essayist's intimate yet distanced take on the world that combines a devotion to particulars . . . with a near-indifference to the status- and achievement-mongering that marks modern life."
    Publishers Weekly
  • "Pickering writes with the sensitivity and craft of a poet, finding meaning in the commonplace and ordinary."
    Library Journal
  • "Pickering's genre is unique, but I'm not sure anyone else can write this stuff. I can live with that as long as Pickering himself continues to wend through the forests, classrooms, airports, billiards championships, hometown parades, and his inner world of Tennessee gags and characters."
    Hartford Courant
  • "Highly autobiographical, The Best of Pickering offers more than two dozen essays that explore a wide range of [Pickering's] most-beloved themes (e.g., nature, student days, being a parent). His lively imagination pulls the reader from the vividly real to the imaginative as we are introduced to his make-believe world of Carthage. Although somewhat unexpected at first, this whimsical parallel to the everyday quickly becomes comforting and often very amusing."
    Library Journal
  • "Pickering is a keen observer of the natural world with a facility for weaving monkey-flowered meadows with details of domestic detritus and snippets of scholarly sanctimony. Gently conversational in tone, Pickering's essays are elevated from pedantic ponderings so common to the form, instead becoming the kind of invigorating interludes one might enjoy round the dinner table following a wholesomely satisfying, if somewhat unconventionally prepared, meal. . . . Few writers can entertain so thoroughly; few essayists can distill the world's vagaries with as deft a hand."
    Booklist
  • "The 'mad scientist' is a staple of American culture. Brilliant, driven and wielding great power, he works in secret laboratories until he launches various nightmares. . . . Made humanists deserve more attention. They are the ones most likely to counteract the effects of made scientists and mad politicians. . . . My candidate for the archetype mad humanist is my colleague Sam Pickering. . . . I invoke his book as an example of the quirky wisdom that runs as deep in his mind as do the stones in his backyard. He thinks; therefore I think better."
    —Robert M. Thorson, University of Connecticut, for the Hartford Courant
  • "Gently conversational in tone, Pickering's essays are elevated from pedantic ponderings so common to the form, instead becoming the kind of invigorating interludes one might enjoy round the dinner table following a wholesomely satisfying, if somewhat unconventionally prepared, meal." —Booklist

Look Inside

Copyright © 2004, Sam Pickering. All rights reserved.

Product Details

  • 6-1/8 x 9-1/4.
  • 352pp.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Hardcover
  • 2004
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-11378-1

Add to Cart
  • $32.00 U.S.

Related Products


nothing
nothing
nothing