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The Art of the Wasted Day (Hardcover)

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Staff Reviews


When life becomes dominated by multitasking, productivity, deadlines, and copious amounts of caffeine, it can be easy to forget about one of life’s more rewarding and necessary activities—doing nothing. In Hampl’s latest contemplative piece, she examines the importance of letting go, lounging, and thinking, and the historical figures that did it best. The Art of the Wasted Day is for anyone needing an excuse to slow down and smell the flowers.

— Aric

Description


"A sharp and unconventional book -- a swirl of memoir, travelogue and biography of some of history's champion day-dreamers." --Maureen Corrigan, "Fresh Air"

A spirited inquiry into the lost value of leisure and daydream

The Art of the Wasted Day is a picaresque travelogue of leisure written from a lifelong enchantment with solitude. Patricia Hampl visits the homes of historic exemplars of ease who made repose a goal, even an art form. She begins with two celebrated eighteenth-century Irish ladies who ran off to live a life of "retirement" in rural Wales. Her search then leads to Moravia to consider the monk-geneticist, Gregor Mendel, and finally to Bordeaux for Michel Montaigne--the hero of this book--who retreated from court life to sit in his chateau tower and write about whatever passed through his mind, thus inventing the personal essay.

Hampl's own life winds through these pilgrimages, from childhood days lazing under a neighbor's beechnut tree, to a fascination with monastic life, and then to love--and the loss of that love which forms this book's silver thread of inquiry. Finally, a remembered journey down the Mississippi near home in an old cabin cruiser with her husband turns out, after all her international quests, to be the great adventure of her life.

The real job of being human, Hampl finds, is getting lost in thought, something only leisure can provide. The Art of the Wasted Day is a compelling celebration of the purpose and appeal of letting go.

About the Author


Patricia Hampl is the author of six prose works, including A Romantic Education and, most recently, The Florist's Daughter. Her work has appeared in many publications, including The New Yorker, The Paris Review, The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and Best American Essays. The recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts and the MacArthur Foundation, she lives in St. Paul, Minnesota.


Coverage from NPR



Product Details
ISBN: 9780525429647
ISBN-10: 0525429646
Publisher: Viking
Publication Date: April 17th, 2018
Pages: 288
Language: English

 

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