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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Writing at its best
I have admired other work by Anne Fadiman, particularly Ex Libris, and I was certainly not disappointed by this latest offering. In At Large and At Small - Confessions of a Literary Hedonist she writes of such diverse topics as coffee, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, national flags and the trauma of moving home. What she offers is not the ubiquitous `in my opinion.....' pieces...
Published on 4 Jan 2008 by Stromata

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2.0 out of 5 stars A mixed bag; mixed feelings
Best to declare upfront that this book was thrust upon me rather than being sought out. That said, reading it wasn't a chore - for the most part. The essay topics range widely enough to hold the reader's interest and the prose isn't trying to push against stylistic boundaries. The approach isn't objective; the author is very much present in the text, so that the book...
Published on 6 Sep 2012 by Bob Namataki


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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Writing at its best, 4 Jan 2008
By 
Stromata (Scotland) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: At Large and at Small: Confessions of a Literary Hedonist (Hardcover)
I have admired other work by Anne Fadiman, particularly Ex Libris, and I was certainly not disappointed by this latest offering. In At Large and At Small - Confessions of a Literary Hedonist she writes of such diverse topics as coffee, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, national flags and the trauma of moving home. What she offers is not the ubiquitous `in my opinion.....' pieces but beautifully crafted essays whose breadth and depth are astonishing. I particularly enjoyed the essay entitled `The Unfuzzy Lamb' in which Fadiman writes about the beloved Charles Lamb. Beloved? Well if you didn't feel that way about him before you read that particular piece, you certainly will after as she paints such a sympathetic picture of him.

This little book, just 200 pages and in a small, but very pleasing format, is an absolute gem. As erudite and amusing as a perfect companion.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Much in here to interest anyone, 21 Jan 2008
By 
A Common Reader "Committed to reading" (Sussex, England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: At Large and at Small: Confessions of a Literary Hedonist (Hardcover)
I first came across Anne Fadiman some years ago via her book of reflections on reading, "Ex Libris". I enjoyed that little book more than its size would suggest, and when I read a review of At Large and Small I was intrigued enough to buy a copy. I found that it contains a collection of essays on a wide range of subjects, from the ice-cream to butterfly collecting, from the esssays of Charles Lamb to the dominance of correspondence by email. This is definitely a book for someone who like reading intelligent musings on a miscellany of topics, and although the essays are essentially light and amusing, most readers will learn something interesting along the way.

As I read it, I began to wonder how this differed from a newspaper column, or even an Internet blog. After all, there are countless coloumnists who write reflectively in the Sunday supplements or the weekly magazines, and even more bloggers who put their thoughts down almost daily on anything that comes across their path. In the end, I felt that Anne Fadiman's essays are perhaps written over a longer period and took longer in the gestation, giving them a depth and consistency across the topics which other media writers may not achieve.

Ann Fadiman is of course highly qualified to write such a book, being Writer-In-Residence at Yale University. The books closes with a comprehensive list of academic references and other notes, and suggests that this is rather more than chance ramblings, but a well-researched set of thoughts born out of a long period of reflection.

The books is beautifully produced, and perhaps this is part of its appeal. Its not a book to hurry through, but rather one to make last over several weeks, and return to again and again. Any book-lover would appreciate it on their shelves, and it would make an unusual gift for anyone who likes reading and is prepared to try something a little different.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More confessions please, 25 Feb 2009
By 
Mr. S. D. Halliday "Assistant Professor of Ec... (Northampton, MA, USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Prior to reading Fadiman's Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader, I had not delved much into the personal essay genre. Reading Fadiman has changed that. My wife bought me Ex Libris for our first anniversary, subsequent to which and a couple of weeks after returning home, I looked up Fadiman online to see that At Large and At Small had recently been published. It is most definitely a 'literary gem', as one of the other reviewers comments.

Fadiman deals with sensitive topics gracefully and wittily. In an interview I found with her online, Fadiman commented that writing personal essays requires that you turn up the 'loudness of your voice'. If so, then somehow Fadiman has managed to select the perfect decibel equivalent at which her writings retain intimacy and factualness while they sustain humour and poignancy. Fadiman shows how she, and anyone really, can be simultaneously enamoured of an historic figure, while perturbed by their character, as evidenced by her commentary on Coleridge and Stefansson. Such personal paradoxes tie well into her essay on the culture wars where she laments the polarization of what makes literature worthwhile. She concludes that both literary value and moral lessons engage the reader and promote literature of all kinds and that the dichotomy is false. These and other ideas float tantalizingly on the surfaces of her essays, while anchored suitably by her research and by her breadth of reading.

I strongly recommend this book to anyone interested in Fadiman's previous collection Ex Libris, while telling them to be aware that they are in for a different literary journey: equally as good, but with a more varied landscape of subject matter.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The art of essay writing at its finest, 19 Aug 2008
By 
Poroto (Tokyo, Japan) - See all my reviews
This review is from: At Large and at Small: Confessions of a Literary Hedonist (Hardcover)
This is an adorable little book. It is a book to relish slowly, not devour. I wished it had 500 more pages so I could have devoured it. I learned a lot of trivial yet fascinating facts about other writers, about butterflies and insects in general, about letter-writing and mail, among others. Ann Fadiman writes in a manner that really involves the reader, i.e. she makes you think that your attention to the topic is valuable, through careful selection of words, personal reflection, and poignant revelations of her family life. It's the sort of book that makes you think "I'm so glad I found it and read it". I wish there were more writers like her.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars More Warm Writing From A Lovely Writer, 2 Jan 2008
This review is from: At Large and at Small: Confessions of a Literary Hedonist (Hardcover)
Anne Fadiman's earlier volume, Ex Libris, is one of my favourite books - a slim volume about the author's passion for books, book collecting and so on. It's wonderfully written and Fadiman's enthusiasm for her subject comes across without straying in to the realm of geeky obsession. I'm happy to report that At Large and at Small is more of the same - concise, yet authoritative essays, on an array of interesting subjects that are presented to the reader in a familiar and warm manner. As with most collections, some essays are stronger than others - 'Night Owl' and the one on Coffee both stand out - but they all contain something that will stir the mind. The essays are easily digested, and you do get the sense that you are enjoying a conversation with a very learned friend.
Highly recommended to everyone who enjoyed Ex Libris - and to anyone who can recognise and enjoy great writing.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Different Title, 27 Aug 2010
This review is from: At Large and at Small: Confessions of a Literary Hedonist (Hardcover)
This is not a review as such - just a note to potential purchasers of this book.
I have this book, but my copy is called "At Large and At Small - Familiar Essays" by Anne Fadiman, published in 2007.
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2.0 out of 5 stars A mixed bag; mixed feelings, 6 Sep 2012
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This review is from: At Large and at Small: Confessions of a Literary Hedonist (Hardcover)
Best to declare upfront that this book was thrust upon me rather than being sought out. That said, reading it wasn't a chore - for the most part. The essay topics range widely enough to hold the reader's interest and the prose isn't trying to push against stylistic boundaries. The approach isn't objective; the author is very much present in the text, so that the book stands and falls on how much you identify with the author - her history, her concerns, her attitudes.

The introduction is essentially a defence of the familiar essay, which seems sensible, but it gives the book an academic gloss that it could well have done without. The essays are up to date (at least one is post-9/11), but Fadiman's attempts to place them within the historical context of the familiar essay makes the book feel oddly dated.

The book feels glib at times, with some essays reading like commissioned exercises in prose written for some magazine or other rather than something heartfelt. There's a lack of anxiety, a self-satisfaction, a cosy quality that many readers might find off-putting rather than welcoming (it's ironic that the 9/11 essay 'A Piece of Cotton' exemplifies this quality).

The book is at its best when it avoids the contentious and focuses on the truly familiar - coffee, ice cream, the mail. But while I learned a lot of new things, it didn't feel like there was much in the way of new insights gained. The essays that stayed with me were the ones that troubled me most in their approach to the subject ('A Piece of Cotton', 'Under Water'), but I'm not sure that was the author's intent.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Another great read, 16 Feb 2009
By 
Russell James (Gloucestetrshire, UK) - See all my reviews
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Anyone who read her EX LIBRIS will need little prodding to urge them to buy a copy of this book. It's just as good. She's one of the most engaging essayists writing today. My perfect companion in bed!
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At Large and at Small: Confessions of a Literary Hedonist
At Large and at Small: Confessions of a Literary Hedonist by Anne Fadiman (Hardcover - 1 Nov 2007)
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