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The Last Happy Occasion Paperback – October 27, 1997

ISBN-13: 978-0226750361 ISBN-10: 0226750361 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: University Of Chicago Press; 1 edition (October 27, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226750361
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226750361
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,223,534 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

This collection of essays by poet Alan Shapiro is part memoir, part literary criticism. Each piece uses a poem--usually one by a 20th-century poet such as Philip Larkin or Elizabeth Bishop--to address some vital aspect of the human condition. Illustrated by examples from his own experiences, he reflects on life's rites of passage--his childhood struggle with religion, the birth of his son, and the death of his sister. Shapiro's essays go beyond mere musing as he employs his critical skills to dissect the thoughts and feelings already packed into the poetry he includes. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Many recent autobiographies trade on the author's celebrity, miserable childhood or personal problems. Shapiro, a middle-aged English professor and prize-winning poet (Happy Hours) has none of that baggage to carry and exploit. Yet his book has a lot more to offer the reader than do many racier or more lurid memoirs. Shapiro uses poetry and its "transformative power" as the basis for his fascinating perceptions about a relatively ordinary life. He is an acute observer of moments, people, art and language. And he packs even seemingly simple stories with many layers of meaning. What seems, for example, to be a mundane youthful moment?skipping a religious service to sneak into a new car show?covers so much more: the longing for newness, the tedium of religious ritual, the passing of time, an encounter with a needy old woman, a Philip Larkin poem, the relief of not getting in trouble and conflicts in poetry and life between old and new. Shapiro can also be funny: describing his father's rueful meditations on the author's less-than-grand stature, he writes, "even now, some thirty years later, whenever he sees me my father always shakes his head and says, 'I can't understand it, Al, you had such big feet.'" Shapiro also works poetry issues into chapters on his experience at Woodstock, conflicts with a girlfriend (who would eventually become his ex-wife), a friend's religious zealotry, the birth of his son and the death of his sister. Although he shows us the limitations of art, admitting that "poems don't necessarily make us better spouses, parents, citizens or friends," he also shows us the power and importance of transformative art in life.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Customer Reviews

3.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book turned out to be pretty damned fascinating, sad, funny, and incredibly thoughtful all at once. A great autobiographical look at "the third lives of poems:" i.e. how they have actual impact in the lives of those who read them. Also some relaly great explorations of the 60's counterculture movement from the perspective of someone who was around it all, went to woodstock, etc., but never became entirely submerged in it. Very interesting.
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By mirele on April 17, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
An argument that poetry is not merely decorative but central to an understanding of the world. The chapter on telling Jewish jokes is wise, hilarious, and poignant--worth the purchase price alone.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The copy of the book I received has blank pages where words should be in the section "Woodstock Puritan." Thankfully, I found an online version to read for my class.
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The Last Happy Occasion
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