22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
An extraordinary book on the ordinary
, 2 Sept. 2012
This review is from: Embracing the Ordinary: Lessons From the Champions of Everyday Life (Paperback)
After really enjoying reading this book and learning a great deal from it, I'd like to counterbalance some of the fairly harsh and inaccurate reviews on here. Although Foley does make extensive use of Joyce and Proust's work, the book is not simply an extended discussion of the two or a compare and contrast exercise. Foley uses their work to illuminate his main theme that joy and profundity can be found in even the most mundane and 'ordinary' seeming moments and locations within everyday life. However, he also draws on a very eclectic range of sources from philosophy, psychology, anthropology, art, literature and science to develop and enrich his argument further. This includes works by authors such as Alice Munro, Henri Bergson, John McGahern, William James and most interestingly, for me anyway, David Foster Wallace, whose commencement address to students on 'living a compassionate life' I will be eternally grateful to Foley for pointing me in the direction of.
Each chapter considers a different aspect of everyday life, from speech, sex, snobbery and status to the strange pleasures of the seemingly joyless workplace. Foley's tremendous wit and humour is on display throughout, which enables him to deal with some very profound and difficult concepts with a deceptively light touch. As in his previous book, his awareness of the absurdity of many aspects of everyday life makes his vision generous and compassionate, rather than bleak or pessimistic. I found the chapters on spirituality and the office/work particularly and simultaneously funny, accurate and wise. Thoroughly, thoroughly recommended.
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