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Essays After Eighty by Donald Hall

Essays After Eighty

by Donald Hall

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I had heard of Donald Hall; however, had not read any of his works until he passed away and I picked this one up from the library. I loved the first essay and a few others but am I was disappointed as I was expecting something more along the lines of May Sarton's reflections on the experience of life at different ages. Hall's book may be titled "Essays After Eighty" but should have been titled "When I was Young". ( )
  bogopea | Aug 24, 2018 |
This was a delightful little book. The author is a great writer along with being witty and inspirational. He offers delicious slices of many aspects of human nature. ( )
  joyfulmimi | Jun 3, 2018 |
I've read a half dozen Donald Hall books, including a collected poems volume, something about Apples and Stone (I liked his newer poems best). But mostly I read his essay collections, the first being STRING TOO SHORT TO BE SAVED, which I found on a remainder table maybe thirty years ago. I loved it. Then there were his memoirs about his life with Jane Kenyon and the years after her death. Both were wrenching to read.

So I know a little about Donald Hall, and I like the way he writes, especially his self-effacing sense of humor, which is on display often here, in ESSAYS AFTER EIGHTY, which could well be his last book, as Hall is nearly ninety now. He knows this, and is actually okay with it. He's won numerous prestigious awards, and was even, reluctantly, America's Poet Laureate for a year. He is philosophical about the honor, noting, "Look at the sad parade of Poet Laureates."

And, regarding his "fame," he chuckles at being once taken for the Donald Hall who cofounded Hallmark Greeting Cards. Another time a man asked him, "Are you Donald Hall?" (Yes) "So am I." It IS a common name, after all.

Hall talks much about the "diminishments" of growing old, poor balance, falling down a lot. Having to surrender his driver's license at 80 was a blow, limiting him in his activities. And all the other indignities that aging brings.

This is a book that old people will understand and relate to. They may not LIKE it, but they'll GET it. I like Donald Hall and I'm an old person. And I loved these pieces. Hall says poetry has "abandoned" him, but he'll keep on writing. Write on, Donald. Very highly recommended (especially for old folks).

- Tim Bazzett, author of the memoir, BOOKLOVER ( )
  TimBazzett | Dec 29, 2017 |
This is an elegant, slim volume of essays on, well, being older than eighty, by one of America's great men of letters. The work is contemplative and humorous without ever being self-pitying or sententious. The essay on beards--times when Hall has worn a beard, and times when he hasn't--is both light-hearted and evocative. ( )
  Smartjanitor | Jun 11, 2017 |
I've never read Donald Hall's poetry but his essays are so beautifully written you would know this about him without being told. His first essay, Out the Window was my favorite. I felt that I could actually see everything he was seeing. Thanks to Karen (Witchyrichy) for the recommendation! ( )
  Dianekeenoy | Jan 27, 2017 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0544287045, Hardcover)

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 has lived a remarkable life of letters, a career capped by a National Medal of the Arts, awarded by the president. Now, in the “unknown, unanticipated galaxy” of very old age, he is writing searching essays that 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.”

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:42 -0400)

A former poet laureate presents a new collection of essays delivering an unexpected view from the vantage point of very old age.

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