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A Day at the Beach: Recollections Paperback – July 27, 1993


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (July 27, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679744495
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679744498
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 5.2 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,171,308 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Maile Meloy for Geoffrey Wolff’s A Day at the Beach

Maile Meloy

There are a handful of books that might have made me a better person and a better writer, and Geoffrey Wolff’s A Day at the Beach is at the top of the list. An essay collection and a memoir, it’s a model of both. If you loved The Duke of Deception, there’s more of Geoffrey’s con artist father here, and if you haven’t read it yet, order that one, too. They’re two of my favorite books to give away, and A Day at the Beach now has a bonus track, the brilliant “Heavy Lifting,” about a summer he spent with his teenage brother Toby.

Wolff’s essays are musical and funny and unflinchingly frank, especially when they’re about lies and self-deception. They’re about reading, writing, drinking, and sailing, about falling in love and falling out of friendship. They’re about trying to be a good brother and son, and about learning, in the aftermath, to be a good husband and father. “The Great Santa” alone would be worth reading this book, for the account of a series of Christmases that swung wildly between privilege and want, and the available joys of each.

But every essay here is just as wonderful. “Apprentice,” about becoming a writer, is one I think about all the time. Wolff’s description of the competing storytellers in the marketplace in Marrakesh, alongside the jugglers and snake-charmers, is the best comment on the writing life that I know: “The storyteller begins his tale. When he gets to a good place in the story, he stops. He passes a hat. If listeners like what they have heard, and want to hear more, they give. If coins are put in the hat—a sufficiency of love, let’s say—the storyteller continues. If coins are not put in the hat, the storyteller returns to his tale’s beginning, and tries again. It’s a graphic situation—no?—literary criticism in action: coined hat or hat uncoined. And when he begins anew? What then? What if his listeners wander off? Well, then he tries another line of work, an easier racket, tooting at cobras, eating fire, shutting up.”

Wolff is one of the all-time great storytellers, and it’s our excellent fortune that A Day at the Beach is back in print—hat coined—and the stories can go on.

--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Wolff's oddly exhilarating autobiographical memoir conjures up a diversity of scenes, set in locations ranging from Istanbul to Greenwich Village to a Caribbean beach.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 23, 2001
Format: Paperback
Wolff's genius lies in his insight, his distance. In these essays that find him in varied life-stages, early adulthood as a crime reporter and in Instanbul teaching and falling in love with nude dancers, to his recent years, Wolff time and again describes events he participated in with candor and humility.
He doesn't mind criticising himself, admitting a mistake. Or describing vulnerability. The title essay discusses a heart attack he had on a long family vacation. "Waterway"s most poignant moments involve the author assenting to being helped by his son to steer the family boat to New England when he realized he and his wife were unable to do it. He recounts an early morning suddenly not being able to tie a knot, and harrying his son on how his wife would have done things.
Wolff is exuberant and playful with language, sometimes to excess, but often in a way that is evocative and even economical. It's a great book about people, fears, frailties, and ways to experience and ponder these things.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on November 23, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
An immensely satisfying read. Makes me wonder why I've never happened on this author before now. With all the schlock one slogs through, hoping for a true, articulate voice, Wolff gets it right. He's a smart-ass with a gift of words. I need to read more by him.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Richard on January 3, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Wolff is always never less than interesting. His story about his relationship with brother Tobias is worth the price of the book.
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