"Rachel Hadas, one of our best poets, has once again proved herself a lively, indispensable essayist. She has spent a lifetime falling in love with books, and it shows. In Piece by Piece she ranges superbly from Kipling and Salinger to thirtysomething contemporary poets. Her personal essays, poignantly evoking parents and friends, are haunting and intensely memorable. Hadas is not just a wise critic, but a vigorous, highly enjoyable one too."―David Mikics, author of Slow Reading in a Hurried Age and The Annotated Emerson
From a Corfu classroom to an Accra art gallery to a spa in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, this collection of prose by poet Rachel Hadas ranges through space. It reaches back in time as Hadas recalls a 1950's New York City childhood "saturated with books" and long-departed parents, both of whom were teachers and deeply scholarly in different ways. In Piece by Piece
, Hadas―who has read and written and taught and lived a life surrounded by readers, writers, and teachers―sifts through the texts and experiences of her bookish life to pass on her findings to new readers.
"Writing a book review," she says in the foreword, "is only one way, and rarely the most interesting way, to engage with what one has read. I'm more interested in what happens to that book as time passes--the obliterations and transformations of memory. What and how do I recall what I've read, sometimes many years before? How, at different times in my life, did books help me?" Rich with a variety of connections in every essay or review, Piece by Piece
is about books and about paying attention. It's about living.
About the Author
Rachel Hadas is a poet, essayist, and translator. She is the author of more than twenty books including Poems for Camilla, Questions in the Vestibule, and the memoir Strange Relation, and she is a frequent reviewer and columnist for the Times Literary Supplement. Hadas is Board of Governors Professor of English at Rutgers University-Newark. She lives in New York City.