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Book review: A Carnival of Losses: Notes Nearing Ninety — by Donald Hall

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Posted on August 6, 2018 |
By Jenny Lyons



A Carnival of Losses.jpg

(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

The late Donald Hall (Sept. 20, 1928-June 23, 2018), was highly regarded by critics and readers alike, garnering numerous honors and awards, including serving as Poet Laureate of the U. S. from 2006 to 2007, and of New Hampshire from 1984 to 1989. He was decidedly prolific in his long career; his published works span nearly seven decades. His last book — a collection of essays, penned as were so many of his works, in the 200-year-old farm that has been in his family for generations—is a parting gift, a finely-crafted, honest exploration of his most enduring themes, published just after he passed away. In this collection, similar in some ways to “Essays After Eighty,” Hall reveals truths gleaned from a lifetime of careful examination and skilled recounting of the human experience. The collection is divided into four parts, varying in lengths and subject matter, from his favorite poets to forgetting names to the upkeep of an old farm, all unflinchingly honest. “Why should a nonagenarian hold anything back?” This collection is astonishing, lively and literary, searing and humorous. Hall was the author of over 50 books: children's literature, biographies, memoirs, essay collections, and 22 volumes of verse.

— Reviewed by Jenny Lyons of The Vermont Book Shop in Middlebury.

 

8 Other outstanding octogenarian authors

The Voyeur's Motel, by Gay Talese

Barkskins, by Annie Proulx

Critics, Monsters, Fanatics, and Other Literary Essays, by Cynthia Ozick

The Origin of Others, by Toni Morrison

South and West: From a Notebook, by Joan Didion

Family Furnishings: Selected Stories, by Alice Munro

A Legacy of Spies, by John le Carré

Back to Blood, by Tom Wolfe

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