At Large and At Small: Familiar Essays (Paperback)
Anne Fadiman revives a neglected genre - the familiar essay - in this collection. Familiar essays combine the personal and the scholarly in a way that is completely winning in this case. I defy you to read her essay on Charles Lamb (on whom she has a "monumental crush") and not develop an intellectual crush of your own, on both author and subject.— From Rebecca
In At Large and At Small, Anne Fadiman returns to one of her favorite genres, the familiar essay—a beloved and hallowed literary tradition recognized for both its intellectual breadth and its miniaturist focus on everyday experiences. With the combination of humor and erudition that has distinguished her as one of our finest essayists, Fadiman draws us into twelve of her personal obsessions: from her slightly sinister childhood enthusiasm for catching butterflies to her monumental crush on Charles Lamb, from her wistfulness for the days of letter-writing to the challenges and rewards of moving from the city to the country.
Many of these essays were composed "under the influence" of the subject at hand. Fadiman ingests a shocking amount of ice cream and divulges her passion for Häagen-Dazs Chocolate Chocolate Chip and her brother's homemade Liquid Nitrogen Kahlúa Coffee (recipe included); she sustains a terrific caffeine buzz while recounting Balzac's coffee addiction; and she stays up till dawn to write about being a night owl, examining the rhythms of our circadian clocks and sharing such insomnia cures as her father's nocturnal word games and Lewis Carroll's mathematical puzzles. At Large and At Small is a brilliant and delightful collection of essays that harkens a revival of a long-cherished genre.
About the Author
Anne Fadiman is the author of The Wine Lover's Daughter, a memoir about her father (FSG, 2017). Her first book, The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down (FSG, 1997), won the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and the Salon Book Award. Fadiman has also written two essay collections, At Large and At Small and Ex Libris, and is the editor of Rereadings: Seventeen Writers Revisit Books They Love (all published by FSG). She is the Francis Writer-in-Residence at Yale.
“Anne Fadiman wins our attention by directing hers with unwavering focus at the world around her. Her perceptions are astute and her sensibility is so rich and sane no calculation could violate it. The personal essay was invented so that writers like Fadiman could practice it.” —Sven Birkerts
“Limpid, learned, perspicacious--and relentless. Whatever the subject, Anne Fadiman overlooks nothing, imparts everything, and leaves you wanting more.” —Thomas Mallon
“These are wonderful essays. The writing is effortless, elegant, and clear, the subjects delightful or weighty or both. Anne Fadiman had me completely charmed by page four.” —Ian Frazier