Cover image for The merry recluse : a life in essays
The merry recluse : a life in essays
Knapp, Caroline, 1959-2002.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Counterpoint, [2004]

Physical Description:
xii, 292 pages ; 22 cm
Without -- With -- Out there -- In here -- The merry recluse.
Personal Subject:
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Call Number
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Item Holds
PN4874.K575 A3 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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Caroline Knapp's was one of this country's most intelligent, graceful, and humorous voices in memoir. Her readers are known not just for their number, but for their intense connection to her work. In Drinking: A Love Story, she homed in on the often unspeakable fears and longings that led to her alcoholism and back again. In Pack of Two, she trained her eye on the bonds between humans and animals. And in Appetites: Why Women Want, she brought her rigorous scrutiny to the ways in which culture shapes a woman's body and her hunger.Now, with The Merry Recluse: A Life in Essays, Knapp shows us that her vision through a wider lens is as brilliant as through a narrow one. This collection of essays spanning fifteen years paints the fullest picture of this wonderful writer that we've yet seen, but it's also a remarkably full portrait of a writing life, showing how the same themes can engage--and expand--a writer over a lifetime. Here are her major preoccupations, with work and love, withgrowth and loss, with distance and intimacy. Solitude, shyness, cereal for dinner, the fine line between boredom and lust, why women ask stupid questions, mastering the art of healthful self-deception--subjects that are universally poignant while charming, funny, and incisive--are explored in both long, thoughtful pieces and light, hilarious essays.

Author Notes

Caroline Knapp is the author of Appetites: Why Women Want and the bestselling books, Drinking: A Love Story and Pack of Two: The Intricate Bond Between People and Dogs. She died in May 2002 at the age of forty-two

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

When she died in 2001 at the age of 42, Knapp was just hitting her stride as a journalist, as a writer, as a woman. She would also have added the titles "friend," "daughter," and "ex-addict" to the list. This posthumous collection of essays once published in contemporary magazines and columns originally written for staid newspapers reveals the arc of her professional career and exposes a maturation process that came at great personal cost. Unafraid to tackle subjects both universal and individual, public and private, Knapp expressed her views with a unique outlook that, paradoxically, resonated with legions of loyal readers who recognized some part of themselves in her. Whether she was writing about her own alcohol addiction and anorexia, or the death of her parents and life's daily frustrations, Knapp's talent lay in her utter guilelessness, her open accessibility, and her disarming ability to bare it all. The loss of her is enormous, and her last words are to be treasured. --Carol Haggas Copyright 2004 Booklist

Library Journal Review

At a particular point in time, in "a magical, transformative moment," Knapp (Drinking: A Love Story) describes herself as "the merry recluse" and realizes she is "happy and alone." Arranged thematically, this collection of poignant essays, written over a 15-year period, deals with grief and sobriety, friendship and love, addictions, shyness, and loneliness. From the potent images of "Life Without Anesthesia" (giving up an addiction) to the artful whimsy of "From Ares to Ridicules Greek Gods for Modern Times" (creating contemporary gods to combat confusion and despair), Knapp captures elements of the human condition and reflects on them. Her description of her battle with anorexia nervosa is vivid and poignant: "At a time when I felt essentially worthless, starving was the one thing I could say I was good at." Her commentary on acquiring a dog is filled with wry humor: "You notice at this point that you have begun to think like a dog." Her declaration that "Life is hard, growth is painful, joy can be elusive" is an eloquent testimonial to her journey from alcoholism to sobriety. Knapp's writing is powerful and compelling throughout. While her worldview is familiar, her representation of it is striking. Her untimely death at the age of 43 is a cause for regret. Recommended for all public and academic libraries. Kathryn R. Bartelt, Univ. of Evansville Libs., IN (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Introductionp. ix
With: Friendship, Family, Love, Lucillep. 1
On Being a Twinp. 3
The Cord That Bindsp. 8
Breaking Awayp. 12
Girl Crushesp. 16
When You Just Want to Be Lovedp. 24
Confessions of a Control Freakp. 30
Letter to Zoep. 35
Grace Notesp. 39
How to Have a Dog's Lifep. 45
Lucille Versus Stumpyp. 50
My Canine, Myselfp. 54
Dog Groupp. 58
No Dogs Allowedp. 62
Best of Breed: The Mixp. 66
Without: Grief, Loss, Sobrietyp. 69
The Grace Periodp. 71
Grief Stagesp. 74
Mid-Mourningp. 77
A Mother's Workp. 80
Detail Workp. 85
Grieving Lessonsp. 89
Clearing Upp. 93
Food as Enemyp. 97
Getting Betterp. 110
On Lonelinessp. 114
Lessons in Lossp. 117
Living Without Alcoholp. 121
A Letter to My Fatherp. 125
Acamprosatep. 133
The Problem with Moderationp. 136
Life Without Anesthesiap. 141
Out There: The State of the Worldp. 149
An Open Letter to Corporate Americap. 151
Twelve Steps Downp. 155
From Ares to Ridiculesp. 159
Beyond Bad Hairp. 163
Notes on Davep. 167
What Women Really Need from Sciencep. 171
He Says, She Saysp. 175
Dicking Aroundp. 179
Death to Nicenessp. 182
Harassment 101p. 185
Patchworkp. 189
Longing to Be Italianp. 193
Why We Keep Stuffp. 195
Teddy Bear IIp. 199
Nesting Feverp. 203
Sloblessnessp. 207
Notes on Nestingp. 211
Overload, Post 9/11p. 215
In Here: Reflectionsp. 219
Longing for Normalcyp. 221
Endless (and Endless) Summerp. 225
Coming Homep. 229
Nothing to Wearp. 233
Exercising Optionsp. 237
I Hate Moneyp. 241
Satan Deals the Cardsp. 245
Transfer Stationp. 249
The Rage Cagep. 253
The Feminine Critiquep. 257
Barbie Does Deathp. 261
Biceps Changed My Lifep. 265
The Merry Recluse: Solitude, Shyness, Lonelinessp. 269
Time Alonep. 271
Speaking Out for Shynessp. 278
The Merry Reclusep. 286