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I'm a big Adam Gopnik fan, but I couldn't really believe this was his work. His essays are often two or three times longer than they ought to be, playing out over the course of months upon months of events, only painfully slowly folding back to return to focus in on a point. That's fine-- even luxurious-- when it works, but in most of the pieces in this book, it doesn't.
Worse, Gopnik, who reads the book himself, has pronunciation issues with words and phrases like "Elizabethan" and "sine qua non." Stunning for such an educated guy, and it'll stop you dead in mid-listen.
Perhaps the utter strangeness of Paris is what made Gopnik's writing there so engaging. With that gone, he focuses instead on his children, who for all of their quirks, are nothing but familiar and never very interesting. I want my Gopnik struggling and unmoored, not manifestly wealthy and bourgeois.
6 of 6 people found this review helpful
I read everything Gopnik writes in the New Yorker and am a grateful fan. So this collection appears to be stuff I've already read. No matter. He can be reread over and over and each time you notice something you missed before. His reading style, especially in the intro, is a little robotic, I'll admit; he sounds a little like the Rabbi in those Seinfeld episodes. But I got used to it quickly, and am now quite fond of it. He is one of the sweetist, funniest, and most insightful and surprising essayists writing today about the REAL stuff: Daily life. And also literature, architecture, style, manners, culture. He has such a light touch and is so generous and warm with all his erudition. He's definitely someone you'd like to know. And how many writers can you say that about?
4 of 4 people found this review helpful