“Reading Pickering… is like taking a walk with your oldest, wittiest friend.”
In this, his tenth book of essays, renowned raconteur Sam Pickering wanders from Nova Scotia to Tennessee, from a middle school athletic field to an English department. He tells stories about people named Googoo and Loppie. He examines trees and flowers. He watches a daughter play soccer and a son row. He attends funerals and remembers the past and imagines the future. His is the ordinary world observed closely.
But reading Pickering makes life blossom. Suddenly the small and the neglected bloom and charm. He is opinionated, too. “Foolishness in low places,” as a reviewer put it, is also his subject. Critics have compared him to Twain and Montaigne and have said his sentences flow like silk, caught in a breeze of verbs and nouns.
Deprived of Unhappiness is a book that describes living—living within a family and with Everyman’s hopes and fears. As the narrator roams hill and field, he tries to make sense of life. Even better, he enjoys life, its big rooms and its small, dusty corners. Pickering breathes life into the weary letters of carpe diem.
Sam Pickering, best known as the model for the teacher in the film Dead Poets Society, is professor of English at the University of Connecticut and the author of numerous books of scholarship and creative nonfiction.
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