Long-form book reviews preponderate in Jacobs' new collection, sharing with the nonreviews the character of the essay established, Jacobs says, by the form's virtual inventor, Montaigne. They ramble or, as Jacobs more sensitively puts it, “acknowledge and accept the vagaries of the mind.” Not that they're diffuse; rather, they're pleasantly expansive, now ringing a relevant personal note, here citing an interesting parallel, there pursuing a rewarding tangent. Jacobs disposes them in two parts, one of articles on writing and works of fiction, poetry, and translation, the other of pieces about extraliterary nonfiction. Particular subjects in the first section include the once-thriving practice of keeping commonplace books, the once-current understanding of what invention in literature and philosophy is, Robert Alter's contemporary Bible translations, Samuel Johnson's great English dictionary, and Harry Potter (whom Jacobs loves). Half of the second section focuses on gardening, trees, and the green movement; the other, on church signboards, the nature of friendship, and trends in the Evangelical Christian community, of which Jacobs is one of the most perspicacious and engaging members. --Ray Olson
Alan Jacobss essays offer a rich feast of intellectual pleasure and ethical nourishment. He combines an alert, sympathetic eye for the novelties of todays technological and artistic culture with a shrewd and solid sense of their moral and psychological effects. This book is bracing, salutary, witty, and profound and its often all of these things on a single page.
author of The Things That Matter
A good volume of essays is a collection of aesthetically delightful and prismatically informative prose pieces, each short enough to be read at a sitting. There arent many such volumes these days, which is a pity. Jacobss Wayfaring is one: it exhibits wit, learning, and an ear for the language, and it will give you new loves while deepening those you already have. Do yourself a favor: buy and read.
Paul J. Griffiths
Duke Divinity School
author of Intellectual Appetite
These essays enthrall, enlighten, ennoble, and entertain. There is nothing unpleasant here, so never mind the title. All of these essays are gems, nothing but delight for mind and soul and body, too, if one takes into account the therapeutic value of laughter and sheer delight.
author of A Very Brief History of Eternity and Waiting for Snow in Havana