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Compass Points: How I Lived
Synopses & Reviews
For nearly fifty years Edward Hoagland has proven himself to be, in the words of William Kittredge, "one of our basic writers" — a writer whose novels, essays, and travel books have demonstrated a "pungency, directness, and his special gift for finding joy in the most unexpected places" (Alfred Kazin).
In Compass Points, Hoagland looks back over his life in an attempt to discern the fundamental directions in which he is traveling, and he tells a story that embraces some of the contradictions and complexities of human experience. It reflects with elegance Hoagland's intransigent honesty, his protean ardor, and, most important, his generosity. Here, family and friends, wives and lovers, mentors and fellow writers are given their due in a life's reckoning that is shrewd in observation, marvelously crafted, rapturous in its acceptance and appreciation. A pithy mix of family history and personal insight, Compass Points transforms one man's story into an American saga.
"Edward Hoagland is excitingly smart. Everything he observes is interesting because his 'vivid care' enlivens. Here are wives and lovers, his rural Vermont life among hippies, his Manhattan life among writers — and Africa, North British Columbia, California forest fires, traveling with the circus, and years of temporary blindness to boot. He is a witness; he is a writer of literature." Annie Dillard
"The precision with which Hoagland sees and the appetite with which he explores are staggering. So is that unassuming powerhouse, his prose — matter-of-fact, rhapsodic, elegant, a little surprise in every line. My admiration for his artistry approaches his for the ancient, dying ways of wilderness living." Philip Roth
"Hoagland's books first showed me the natural world I took for granted pouring like water down the drain of greed and commerce. He is one of the founders of a branch of literature that did not exist when he started writing. From him many of us first learned to look at place and landscape and the ways humans use them. Compass Points is sensual, taut, pungent, and full of the hot licks of a vigorous, involved life." Annie Proulx
"His writing always has for me that special capacity for wonder. [He is a] writer born, a writer obsessed." Alfred Kazin
"Like Thoreau, he has no account to offer of himself other than that he is an inspector of snowstorms, has the philosophical knack, and can touch our conscience to the quick with a deftness you are not likely to forget." Guy Davenport
"Hoagland's writing is second to no one's." Robert Stone
About the Author
Edward Hoagland's first book, Cat Man, won the 1954 Houghton Mifflin Literary Fellowship. Since then he has written nearly twenty books, including Walking the Dead Diamond River (a 1974 National Book Award nominee), African Calliope (a 1980 American Book Award nominee), and The Tugman's Passage (a 1982 National Book Critics Circle Award nominee). In 1982 he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Hoagland was the editor of The Best American Essays for 1999. He lives in Bennington, Vermont.
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