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A Solemn Pleasure: To Imagine, Witness, and…
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A Solemn Pleasure: To Imagine, Witness, and Write (The Art of the Essay)

by Melissa Pritchard

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Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Fifteen essays make up this uneven collection. I found them all difficult to read for various reasons. I wasn't impressed with her Room in London, it was just blah.

Time and Biology: On the Threshold of the Sacred was so full of literary name dropping that I never figured out what Pritchard herself was trying to say. I don't mean name dropping in the gossipy sense that she claimed to personally know these writers, but, rather there so many brief quotes that I was annoyed that the essay was written show how well read she is. Sixteen pages of that.

Doxology is thirty boring pages about her dog. Her grief of her parent's deaths, the title essay, rates only twenty pages--much of it about the cost and procedure of cremation. There were also brief, lightweight pieces on Walt Whitman and Georgia O'Keeffe. There are other short pieces that aren't especially memorable.

Finding Ashton, about a US female soldier in Afghanistan, was moving but there was too much about Melissa Pritchard and not enough about Ashton Goodman.

"Still God Helps You": Memories of a Sudanese Child Slave is the most powerful essay in the collection. It is a well written piece of social journalism. Here Pritchard lets Manyuol tell his story with a minimum of insertion of Pritchard's feelings and beliefs. This was the sort of writing I had hoped for when I requested the book, I wish there had been more like it. ( )
  seeword | Sep 11, 2016 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
As a fan of Pritchard's writing I was excited for the chance to read this essay collection. And it didn't disappoint! The best part of this book is that it didn't feel like you were reading a collection of disconnected essays- more like you were having an afternoon chat with a friend. Highly recommended!
  PirateColey | Mar 24, 2016 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I enjoyed reading these essays. Pritchard's language is elegant and clear, sophisticated but not pretentious. She seems to approach the essay in the spirit of the original etymology -- to test, to try, to weigh -- and so some of selections may be too brief or too meandering for readers who expect an essay to have a clear thesis or theme, thoroughly elaborated. I was able to just enjoy the ride, and at the end of each essay, I had a list of interesting questions I wanted to explore in my own writing, topics to research, and books and other texts to hunt down and read. That's enough for me.

I think I would have liked some more organization to the collection, be that thematic sections or some thread that I could trace through each essay. Additionally, at times I thought Pritchard overdid one of her recurring themes: writers "as priests, as prophets, as soul transformers" and books as "devotional objects." I suppose in many ways I agree with her about the potential of literature and the responsibilities of artists, so this may just reflect my constitutional dislike for quasi-mystical hyperbole (and my skepticism towards anyone who puts herself and her fellows up on too high a pedestal). ( )
  agrondin | Aug 21, 2015 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This is an extraordinary collection of essays. They range from meditations on writing to odes to her dog to an examination of a life of a young man who escaped from slavery in Sudan and made his way to the US. From the seemingly mundane to the sacred, Pritchard writes in a marvelously clear voice that illuminates the power and importance of the writing life. ( )
  eachurch | May 2, 2015 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
A Solemn Pleasure is a fantastic book of essays. From a brief stay in London, to the death of the author's mother, and the story of a child slave, each one makes you think. I laughed, was frankly envious of one, and cried at several others. My favorite essay might be Doxology, about the author's Dachshund; though A Room in London is a close second.

One thing I loved about this book is that the writing is up close; personal. I felt less like I was reading a book of essays, and more like I was having a series of long conversations with a friend. Anyone who enjoys reading essays will love this book.

(Full Disclosure: I received a review copy through LibraryThing's Early Reviewer program). ( )
  anneb10 | Apr 26, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
"A Solemn Pleasure" is a very good book. Melissa Pritchard is an excellent writer.
added by BevFuller | editLibrary Thing, Beverly Fuller
 
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