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Should you wish to attempt ice cream in this manner, please see page 57. Those who truly wake at sunset inhabit another world, one Fadiman prefers.There’s the quiet, the sense of unity amongst night owls, the creative juices that flow when all is dark. (Rumblings about Twain and the n-word, as my college professors would say).Many of these essays were composed "under the influence" of the subject at hand.
Finally, we should be sufficiently broadminded to understand that Dickens wrote before the advent of feminism. Close in my affections for favorite essay in this collection is “Mail,” wherein Fadiman describes her late initiation into e-mail. “Moving” aptly captures the lunacy of the real estate market, along with the attendant anxieties of leaving a long-term habitation.
Coming as she did from a life without cars, VCRs, compact disc players, and cellular telephones, this was quite the luddite’s leap, one that many readers of a certain age will empathize with. “Underwater,” written about the drowning death of a young man named Gary Hall, ends the collection on a somber, watchful note, not out of keeping with the moment.
Soon I was totally engrossed in the heartbreaking story of Lia Lee, a young Hmong girl suffering from epilepsy, her family, and the Western medical establishment they crash against. Spirit was open on the dining room table: I kept dipping into it between visits to the stove. At ages eight and ten: Instead of renunciation, Anne and Kim transform a bedroom in their Los Angeles home into “The Serendipity Museum of Nature,” an amazing collection of natural artifacts -- bird skeletons, snakeskins, whalebone, scraps of fur, fish bones.
Oh, for the good old days, when children of six and eight years could handle such items with aplomb, along with another popular killing agent, potassium cyanide.
Her favorite flavors are chocolate, vanilla, coffee, and nut-related; she dislikes fruit flavors as they are “insufficiently redolent of sin.” I don’t know about sin, only that, in the depths of weight loss mania, ice cream was the one food I could not bear to give up.
Like Fadiman, I feel low-fat ice creams (such a misnomer! Also like Fadiman, I married a man who is indifferent to ice cream’s sensuous depths.Who among us has not forgotten an attachment or sent, as she did, an x-rated email to her husband, only to realize she had the wrong e-mail address? At Large is a lovely read -- informative, amusing, wide-ranging. Whatever you read next needs to be especially fine, or it will pale considerably in comparison.It will be akin to eating frozen yogurt when you really want a pint of Häagen Daz chocolate.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.Fortunately, he has many fine qualities compensating for this grievous lack.Turning from her husband George, consumer of sorbets, Fadiman again finds an ally in Kim. Fadiman’s winding sentences are finely wrought; the adjective that comes to mind is the rather archaic “charming.” Quoting her father, the late Clifton Fadiman, she writes: ...great writers are not machines that produce, out of nothingness, of series of words that happen to be more perfect than other people’s words; they are flawed mortals, often imprudent and uncivil, who are so large (that’s what greatness is: size) that every part of them deserves to be understood. Along with her brother, Kim, young Anne joyously netted prey and carefully dropped them into jars, where the poor insects expired in a cloud of carbon tetrachloride. An exploration of the familiar essay, At Large variously examines lepidoptery, Charles Lamb, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, sleep, arctic exploration, flags, coffee and that most critical of substances, ice cream.Like his polymath sister, Kim Fadiman is something of a special case.After years of experimentation, he meets a geochronologist who suggests making ice cream with liquid nitrogen. In “Night Owl,” Fadiman sings the praises of wakefulness in the wee small hours.