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.
The net was green. The handle was wood, and the grip was uncomfortably thick, like that of a tennis racket borrowed from an older player. The mesh bag was long enough that if we caught a tiger swallowtail—or...
Praise for At Large and At Small
“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-