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Every Little Thing: Reflections on Family, Faith and Friendship Paperback – October 24, 2009
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I am one of the lucky ones who get to read Tracey O'Shaughnessy's essays every week in my local Sunday paper. Her writing is colorful and intelligent, and her thoughts on home and faith are amusing, provocative and often moving. Every Little Thing packs a real big wallop. --Charles A. Monagan, editor of Connecticut Magazine, and author of Connecticut Icons and The Complete Neurotic: The Anxious Persons Guide to Life
Tracey is one of those rare, and I fear endangered writers, whose work is inspired by her love for the community, a community that loves and treasures her in equal measure. --Alistair Highet, actor, psychoanalyst, author of The Yellow Train and Lucas, former editor at the Litchfield County Times and Hartford Advocate
Tracey O Shaugnessy is, quite simply, one of our finest essayists. Her words are, to use her own phrase, born of deep reflection, and they run the gamut from poignance to hilarity often in the same piece of writing. I revel in her insights and marvel at her love for and command of language. --Parke Puterbaugh, author of Phish: The Biography, Rolling Stone writer, and Guilford University professor
About the Author
Tracey O Shaughnessy, the 2001 recipient of the Society of Professional Journalists award for her Sunday Reflections column, is the Associate Features Editor of the Republican-American. She writes weekly about family life, religion, society and culture. Her column has won praise from the American Society of Newspapers Editors, the New England Associated Press News Executives Association, the American Academy of Religion and the American Association of Sunday and Features Editors. A native of Massachusetts, O Shaughnessy is a graduate of Wesleyan and American universities and has won two Wilbur Awards for her columns on religion, as well as a Clarion Award for her columns on women.
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Top Customer Reviews
This is not a trick, but it is magic. It's the kind of work that might be thought of in terms of Freud's iceberg analogy to illustrate the mind: one eighth visible and accessible to awareness, the rest below sea level. How this applies to O'Shaughnessy is in relation to her long career as a journalist. All those years spent refining her craft form the hidden support beneath the superb selection she's assembled, the creme de la creme of her feature pieces. Simply put, it's a gift presented to all who admire and respect the printed word, offered as a handsome trade paperback from Gold Mountain Press.
Open the book to any page, and you see this gift at work. In "Father Falls into the Arms of The Drink," the writer reflects on how flaws--in this case, alcoholism--lead others to simplify their opinion of someone. How easy it becomes, she says, "to submerge other qualities,no matter how peculiar, perverse--or endearing."
Returning from a funeral-home visit after the death of a friend's alcoholic father, she reflects on the man: "How long does it take to drink yourself to death, I wonder. The rain sloshes against the windshield on the long road back home, and I wonder how resolved you'd have to be. In the end, my friend's father gave up all other nourishment. The drink was his Eucharist. It embalmed him."
Aside from managing to write well here about something so shopworn as the Irish and drink, O'Shaughnessy's moment of insight strikes the reader as just that--insight. How often is it either easier to hate or to unconditionally love someone who's deeply flawed? That's how we deal with such people, by ceasing to think about them, by giving up and choosing sides. It's too hard to go on trying to see and hear them as persons.
"The Woman you never met."
As happens habitually in the collection, When O'Shaughnessy speaks of the "frenetic thrum" in a gym, she demonstrates a perfect ear. That's exactly the right word in onomatopoeic terms, since that's what treadmills and stair climbers do--they thrum.
And the nameless woman O'Shaughnessy never meets in her fitness center, "unassuming to the point of diffidence"--why is she so self-effacing? The reason is made plain when we learn she's reading C.S.Lewis while walking on a treadmill. People with refined , eccentric taste in literature learn to be unassuming in public places. Having grown wary of being strange to others in our culture, wisely perhaps, they blend into the thrumb.
Tracey O'Shaughnessy is reason enough for The Republican American to stay in business. That's the newspaper in Waterbury, Connecticut where she still writes regularly, and serves as the associate features editor. I'm not at all surprised her readers urged her to publish a collection: only someone in love with the world can write like this.