A Carnival Of Losses: Notes Nearing Ninety, by Donald Hall

A Carnival Of Losses: Notes Nearing Ninety, by Donald Hall

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From the former poet laureate of the United States, essays from the vantage point of very old age

Donald Hall lived a remarkable life of letters. Before his passing in 2018, nearing ninety, he delivered this new collection of self-knowing, fierce, and funny essays on aging, the pleasures of solitude, and the sometimes astonishing freedoms arising from both.

He intersperses memories of exuberant days—as in Paris, 1951, with a French girl memorably inclined to say, “I couldn’t care less” — with writing, visceral and hilarious, on what he has called the “unknown, unanticipated galaxy” of extreme old age.

“Why should a nonagenarian hold anything back?” Hall answers his own question by revealing several vivid instances of “the worst thing I ever did," and through equally uncensored tales of literary friendships spanning decades, with James Wright, Richard Wilbur, Seamus Heaney, and other luminaries.