More than two dozen essays visit the author's great themes -- family, nature, seizing the day, and the strange goings-on in Carthage, Tennessee
Praise for Sam Pickering:
"Pickering has all of Thurber's humor, and he writes as well as E. B. White. He writes with passion, wit, and a strange personal note of self-mockery; he is humanely educated, wise, and capable of a wide range of stylistic effects."
". . . he writes in the tradition of Montaigne hammering together a ramshackle affair of surprising nooks, crannies and additions-all under the same roof."
---The Oxford American
"Pickering has the natural essayist's intimate yet distanced take on the world that combines a devotion to particulars . . . with a near-indifference to the status- and achievement-mongering that marks modern life."
"Pickering writes with the sensitivity and craft of a poet, finding meaning in the commonplace and ordinary."
"Pickering's genre is unique, but I'm not sure anyone else can write this stuff. I can live with that, as long as Pickering himself continues to wend through the forests, classrooms, airports, billiards championships, hometown parades, and his inner world of Tennessee gags and characters."
His writing is as unique and recognizable as the music of Mozart, the painting of Picasso, or the poetry of Dickinson. Yet most Americans likely know Sam Pickering, the University of Connecticut English professor, from the movie Dead Poets Society. In the film, Robin Williams plays an idiosyncratic instructor---based on Pickering---who employs some over-the-top teaching methods to keep his subjects fresh and his students learning.
Fewer probably know that Pickering is the author of more than 16 books and nearly 200 articles, or that he's inspired thousands of university students to think in new ways. And, while Williams may have captured Pickering's madcap classroom antics, he didn't uncover the other side of the author-Sam Pickering as one of our great American men of letters.
The Best of Pickering amply demonstrates Pickering's amazing powers of perception, and gives us insight into the mind of a writer nearly obsessed with turning his back on the conventional trappings of American success-a writer who seems to prefer lying squirrel's-eye-level next to a bed of daffodils in the spring or trespassing on someone else's property to pursue a jaunt through joe-pye weed and goldenrod. Indeed, Pickering's philosophy, at least on paper, may very well be "Now is the only time."
If you haven't met Sam Pickering before, prepare to be surprised and delighted by these wry and sometimes self-deprecating essays that are witty and elegant and concrete yet wander widely, and include Pickering's well-trod fictional Southern town of Carthage, Tennessee, full of strange goings-on. This definitive collection of the best of Pickering is a must for Pickering fans and a fine introduction for the uninitiated to one of our greatest men of letters.
Sam Pickering is Professor of English at University of Connecticut in Storrs. He's the author of more than a dozen books of essays, including Trespassing, The Blue Caterpillar and Other Essays, and The Last Book. He is married and has three children.