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Learning to Drive: And Other Life Stories Paperback – September 9, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
“A powerful personal narrative . . . full of insight and charm . . . [Katha] Pollitt is her own Jane Austen character . . . haughty and modest, moral and irresponsible, sensible and, happily for us, lost in sensibility.”—The New York Review of Books
“With . . . bracing self-honesty, Pollitt takes us through the maddening swirl of contradictions at the heart of being fifty-something: the sense of slowing down, of urgency, of wisdom, of ignorance, of strength, of helplessness, of breakdown, of renewal.”—The Seattle Times
“Essays of breathtaking candor and razor-sharp humor . . . [Pollitt] has outdone herself. . . . [Her] observations are acute and her confessions tonic. Forget face-lifts; Pollitt’s essays elevate the spirit.”—Booklist (starred review)
“Candid, confessional prose . . . But even at her most intimate, [Pollitt] manages to infuse her tales of dissatisfaction and heartbreak with levity and humor.”—San Francisco Chronicle
“Pitch perfect . . . painfully hilarious to read.”—The Boston Globe
Top Customer Reviews
One cannot open a publication these days without stumbling upon a personal essay. Unfortunately, the awkward confessions outnumber the moving ones - and the finely written are rare indeed.
In this jungle of self-revelation, however, there is a bird which manages to embody all three qualities. And in the past couple of years, many have sprung from the aerie of Katha Pollitt's imagination.
"Learning to Drive," Pollitt's hilarious, elegant new book of personal essays, collects these pieces into one volume. If a book could contain awkward silences, this one could fill a cathedral with them.
Herein Pollitt admits to Web-stalking her ex-boyfriend, of continuously failing her driver's test, of attending a Marxist study group only to spend most of her time procrastinating for the weekly reading.
Pollitt, an award-winning poet and columnist for the Nation, knows she can't simply dump this information onto the page and expect a reader's natural sympathy to do the rest. Each story is a fine, crafted piece of comic writing, with expert turns of phrase.
"Information was what I wanted from her boyfriend's ex-lovers," she writes in a piece about befriending one of his ex-lovers: "the underside of the carpet I thought I had been standing on." A piece on feminism has this description of Iris Murdoch: "she looks a bit like an intelligent potato."
This kind of wit is hard to come by, harder still in a writer so thoughtful. One almost wishes Pollitt didn't have to go through such travails to deliver it to us - but, selfishly, most readers should take this book and run.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
surprising, very personal and educated and witty look at items all contemporaries who think must confrontPublished 16 days ago by Elaine Edelman
Thanks Pollitt! I laughed often, and sometimes ruefully, recognizing some of my own thoughts and feelings and discovering some new perspectives on my own life. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Samantha Betts
Couldn't finish it. I felt it had a very low opinion of men.Published 11 months ago by Amazon Customer
I'm midway through this book and loving it. It's honest, and it's a pageturner. Katha Pollitt is a fine writer and a fine human being. Read morePublished on July 28, 2013 by Evalyn F. Segal
I like this book. Katha Pollitt is a witty writer. A critique of socialism written by what some would say a bourgeosis perspective and a critique of heterosexuality by a feminist... Read morePublished on April 5, 2013 by 50 years old
Because I wanted the book to keep and re-read someday. These stories are wonderful. I think women especially would relate to them.Published on January 31, 2013 by Gloria Boyer
I've always loved Katha Pollitt, and this book was no exception. I was blown away - I didn't expect it to be so laugh out loud funny and I certainly didn't expect to relate. Read morePublished on March 23, 2011 by Erin O'Rourke
I received this book gratis for sending a contribution to a non tradtional organization in Vermont. It was a nice gift since Ms Pollett is an interesting lady who writes... Read morePublished on September 26, 2009 by Joseph D. Policano