Book Review: A Carnival of Losses: Notes Nearing Ninety

A Carnival of Losses: Notes Nearing Ninety
Donald Hall

As always, the book flap has a nice concise summary of this slim but wonderful volume: “New essays from the vantage point of very old age …”

Donald Hall, a U.S. poet laureate and husband of poet Jane Kenyon (who died in 1995 of leukemia), finished this gem as he approached the age of ninety. (He passed away in June at age 89, shortly after receiving his two advance copies of the book.) Many of the essays will make you laugh out loud; many are short and sweet vignettes; others encompass his knowledge and experience with poets and poetry; and many more are about his New England roots, his family, and his family farm in New Hampshire. And of course, many are about what’s it’s like to be really old and approaching death.

There are a few essays that dive too deep (for my tastes) into the politics of poetry; nonetheless, I think it may be my favorite book of the year. I would particularly recommend it to anyone with aging parents or loved ones.

There is a great New Yorker article on his later life and works; click here to read more.

Click here to request a copy of the book.

Review by Roberta Jordan, Outreach and Instruction Librarian

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