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One Man's Meat Paperback – June 1, 2003
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White had moved there with his wife and young son from New York, where he'd been writing for The New Yorker, and took up country living, turning his attention to the annual round of the seasons, farm work, the nearby seaside, and the company of independent rural people. Most of the essays in this collection were written and published monthly in Harpers from July 1938 to January 1943. In them, there is White's awareness of the ominous threat of fascism emerging in Europe, as well as the vulnerability that Americans felt as they found themselves facing prolonged armed conflict with powerful enemies. These were dark days, and they provide a constant undertone in these otherwise upbeat essays about rural and small-town life.
And they are upbeat, celebrating the pleasures and gentle ironies of daily life with a few side trips into the world beyond -- the birth of a lamb, paying taxes, farm dogs, hay fever, raising chickens, Sunday mornings, radio broadcasts, civil defense drills, a visit to Walden pond, a day at the World's Fair, and unrealistic Hollywood portrayals of the pastoral. There is also here his famous essay "Once More to the Lake."
In many ways, the world he writes about is gone forever. But it's a world whose spirit remains at the heart of the national identity -- participatory democracy, individualism, citizenship, self-discovery, and self-reliance.Read more ›
One Man's Meat, first published in 1942, is the companion volume to the Essays of E. B. White. Both books include his classic, Once More to the Lake, an essay about taking his own son to the lake that made such an impression on him when he was taken there by his own father. There is minimal overlap between the two books.
In 1940 he lamented the effects of the automobile on community life: "Everything in life is somewhere else, and you get there in a car." This book also includes the best thing I have ever read about poetry. Poems must be short, he said, because, "Poetry is intensity, and nothing is intense for long."
One of the things that struck me most in this group of essays was his statement about writers, since I am one. He wrote: "In a free country it is the duty of writers to pay no attention to duty." I love this man.
I could rant on for hours about the joy of reading this book, but it's better that you spend your time reading his work instead of mine.
(I recently overheard, or saw only in my peripheral vision, or almost read a comment by a professor of literature. "I would give anything," he said, "for the pleasure of reading 'Romeo and Juliet' again for the first time.")
That experience awaits you here. That experience and the companion experience that the sly, lively E.B. White is just behind you, just over your shoulder as you read. The words are that alive.
Listen to Mr. White contemplate as he attempts to complete a government questionnaire: "Under JOB FOR WHICH YOU ARE BEST FITTED I wrote "Editor and writer." Under JOB FOR WHICH YOU ARE NEXT BEST FITTED I wrote "Poultryman and farmer." But I realize . . .it is hard to tell about fitness. Physically I am better fitted for writing than for farming, because farming takes great strength and great endurance. Intellectually I am better fitted for farming than writing."
That, for me, was the best of many extraordinary lines in one of many exceptional paragraphs in one of many excellent essays.
I have a habit of dog-earring pages of books where I feel wisdom is revealed. No book I have read in the last few years has as many pages folded over as this book of essays.
Read. Enjoy. Have that wonderful first experience. Allow in this avuncular Yankee; he will live in you forever more.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I read his stories to my children when they were little, and we all loved them, but this is my first look at his essays. Read morePublished 2 months ago by L J
I already knew it was a great book -- It arrived pretty wrinkled, I am sorry to say.Published 6 months ago by kathy hall
After reading THE ESSAYS OF E.B. WHITE, I had to purchase this other collection of White's essays, written between 1938 and 1943, after White and his family pulled up stakes from... Read morePublished 6 months ago by L. M Young
It has been years since I have read this. He writes so exactly well about the people who live here, with very small infusion of himself and his family. Very small. Very Maine. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Amazon Customer
E.B. White is one of my favorite authors! A friend loaned me this book and I liked it so much I had to buy a copy.Published 7 months ago by Gunnar J Gundersen
Great writing. I don't really care for short stories and this is a collection of his newspaper columns, but they are all entertaining.Published 8 months ago by Caren Minzy
This is the third time I've read this book. I keep giving copies away to friends who ask me what it is like to live in Maine, I'll never tire of reading his many insights into... Read morePublished 18 months ago by Richard E. Kuhn