A Carnival of Losses by Donald Hall

A Carnival of Losses

“Hall lived long enough to leave behind two final books, memento mori titled ‘Essays After Eighty’ (2014) and now ‘A Carnival of Losses: Notes Nearing Ninety.’ They’re up there with the best things he did.” —Dwight Garner,  New York Times From the former poet laureate of the United States, essays from the vantage point of very old age Donald Hall lived a remarkable life of letters, one capped most recently by the New York T...

Details A Carnival of Losses

TitleA Carnival of Losses
Release DateJul 10th, 2018
PublisherHoughton Mifflin Harcourt
GenreNonfiction, Writing, Essays, Autobiography, Memoir, Poetry, Biography Memoir

Reviews A Carnival of Losses

  • Pamela
    My thanks to NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this book. I expected more reflection on the process and peculiarities of aging. I expected less (or no) opinions of other poets, nor the ad nauseam rendition of the past 150 years of family history and circa 1865 farmhouse. I expected humor aka David Sedaris. I am at a loss to review A Carnival of Losses except to say I am most definitely in the minority with my strong dislike and dis...
  • Gerri
    Until I saw a write up about this book in my local newspaper, I had no idea who Donald Hall was. The synopsis of the book was so intriguing that I had to read it and I’m so glad I did!!!! One of the best reads this summer. Mr. Hall is so open and honest in this writing about everything from aging, his loves, loss and life in general at turning 90. I don’t think he held anything back. Loved the way he wrote in short chapters which made this bo...
  • Sue
    It dismays me that I had to learn of this book only through the obituary for Donald Hall, poet, editor, anthologizer, Poet Laureate. This final collection of essays and reminiscences was ready for release when Hall died in late June 2018, a few months shy of his ninetieth birthday.Hence the book, A Carnival of Losses: Notes Nearing Ninety, is truly a valedictory. He tells us how difficult it was to summon the strength to write. His mind was willi...
  • Rick
    Hall passed away as this book was being published so we have lost our Virgil of longevity. What you need to let go of, what you need to cling to, how you can find meaning and value in a world that still engages you to the best of your declining abilities—and a model for looking at is with determination, humor, and unfettered frankness. His Essays After Eighty was wonderful—blunt, wise, witty, charming, and belligerent; A Carnival of Losses is...
  • Ellyn Lem
    I bet if someone is an ardent fan of Donald Hall's poetry, that person would revel in this latest collection of essays written in his late 80s. The novelist Ann Patchett is one such fan and has heartily endorsed the collection, which is how I had heard of it. While somewhat familiar with Hall's poems (less so his children's books and criticism), I had a hard time mustering up much excitement for most of these short snippets on a wide variety of t...
  • Edward
    Sometimes titles are particularly apt, and this is true of Donald Hall's book. He died this past summer at the age of 89. When you get to be that age, you've experienced plenty of losses, and have to be anticipating the biggest loss of all, your life. But at the same time, Hall kept writing, humorously and with balance in essays and meditations about many of these losses. Many are physical, detailing the indignities of the failing body, many are ...
  • Rhonda Lomazow
    Donald Hall wrote so openly and honestly of aging.He held nothing back the fact that the older he got the more naps he needed remembering his younger years.When he talks about Jane Kenyon his love a young woman he met when she was in his college class. How they fell in love built a life both poets her poetry so beautiful. Their daily routine till his heartbreak she fell ill he nursed her daily but this much younger woman the love he never got ove...
  • Roberta
    Amazing. From the book flap: "New essays from the vantage point of very old age ..." Donald Hall, the former poet laureate and husband of poet Jane Kenyon, has written this gem of book as he approaches the age of ninety. Many essays will make you laugh out loud; many are short and sweet; 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 Hampsh...
  • Eric
    I did not know who Donald Hall was before I read this. I read a review of this somewhere. It wasn't as depressing as it sounds. A lot of it was pretty funny actually. Donald Hall was the poet laureate of America about 10 years ago. He was married to Jane Kenyon who died of leukemia at 47. He talked about her a lot and also about getting older (no surprise there), poets that he had met, friends, his family, and the old farmhouse he lived in among ...
  • D.j. Lang
    I read this final book of Donald Hall's close on the heels of his Essays After Eighty (You can find that review here.) However, I did not want to review two growing old books, one after the other, especially one with a title about losses. At the time that I read the book, I still had all of my aunts and uncles and both parents alive (and I'm not a child). I have seen that they have had to live through the losses of loved ones and the loss of heal...
  • Will Chin
    OK, it's more like 3.5. I generally stay away from prose written by poets. Call me uncivilised, but I am generally not a fan of poetry. But when I heard about this book — A Carnival of Losses: Notes Nearing Ninety by Donald Hall — I just couldn't pass it up. Death and dying are topics that fascinate me as a reader, and descriptions of this essay seem to promise exactly that — from the perspective of a ninety-year-old poet, no less. An essay...
  • Kathleen
    Unless his estate surfaces unpublished pieces, this is the last of Donald Hall's work, and I will miss reading something new of his. With honesty, sometimes, humility, and always, humor, Donald Hall remembers what is important about his heritage, family, and writing life as well as what he has lost as he moves slowly in his ninetieth year.His thoughts on work reminded me of Studs Terkel's important commentary, "Working." Every once in a while, on...
  • Kay
    Beautifully written, by a former poet laureate , this collection of essays on nearing 90 speaks to the author's experience of being elderly and its challenges. Being that age, he doesn't feel the need to hold anything back, and this is an insightful view of his experiences. Mr. Hall is amusing but there's an angst that permeates this collection that had me rushing to finish it by the end. I guess that shouldn't be surprising since the title is A ...
  • Michael
    There are many things I liked and enjoyed about this book - having just finished it, I find it difficult to try to organize a suitable short explanation of why I enjoyed. One comment would simply be that I am a typical (I fear) individual who only occasionally reads a poem or feels much affinity for poetry, but there is much here that does not require an enthusiasm for poetry.. While reading the book, I looked up some of Mr. Hall's other works an...
  • Elizabeth
    I would have read A Carnival of Losses even without the quote from Ann Patchett on the back cover: "Donald Hall writes about love and loss and art and home in a manner so essential and direct it's as if he's put the full force of his life on the page. There are very few perfect books, and A Carnival of Losses is one of them." But, it turns out that Patchett (whose work I also admire) was right about this book. I don't use the five star rating of...
  • Brenda
    Frank account of life and aging as a poet, writer, husband, widower. His anecdotes on love and romance are insightful and touching. Never morose, but sometimes melancholic, I enjoyed this book. One of my favorite sections is titled The Wild Heifers which tells of the first prose book the author wrote and attempted to have published in The New York Times. Another that I really liked is titled Romance. Very sweet and funny.I’m embarrassed to admi...
  • Rachel Watkins
    Reading Hall's A CARNIVAL OF LOSSES is like a visit with an old friend. The essays run the gamut from his opinion on the resurgence of beards to the origin story for his infamous children's book, OX-CART MAN, which was originally a poem. Antidotes about dinner parties with T. S. Eliot., driving around Oregon with James Dickey, or how Theodore Roethke was a self-serving operator are in stark contrast to as essay entitled "Losing My Teeth" in which...
  • Arthur Okun
    A sensitive memoir. a life of language,of poems of poets and a marriage that was one of comfort and companionship.A CARNIVAL OF LOSSES INTRODUCED ME TO THE WORDS OF POEMS -AND HOW WORDS CAN FORMA PICTURE OF LIFE.I found in the poems of Donald Hall and Jane Kenyon a warm sensitivity to marriage,home,andthe respect of others. What a life! What a thinking life! Donald Hall had an education-Prep School,Harvard,Cambridge and the world of companions wi...
  • M
    Donald Hall died earlier this year (2018) and so reading this book made me partly sad that this would be the last book written by Hall. I adore Donald Hall's work so I'm a fairly biased reviewer. His style is melancholy, playful, and slightly wistful. If you choose to pick up "A Carnival of Losses" be prepared for the sort of cyclical remembering that older people tend to do. I loved his remembrances about Jane Kenyon and many other writers and p...
  • Bill
    This is a charming set of observations from an old codger who led an extremely interesting, apparently full life, and coincidentally can write really, really well. How one does that in one's late eighties is a marvel, but having been Poet Laureate of the US probably had something to do with it. The book is structured as a set of very short (1-5 page) anecdotes, eminently readable. Some are touching, some are hilarious. More are hilarious. I got l...
  • Allison
    Space your Donald Hall booksHere’s a tip for you. Don’t read this directly after reading Essays After Eighty. It is like visiting an old man and hearing him tell the same stories over again. Some of them were different, and he showed an amazing memory for the names of friends, relatives and colleagues, but the general themes were the same and it was just a much of a muchness. I did enjoy tracking down some of the poems he refers to and readin...
  • Gidimeister
    A quirky book of scattered recollections and reflections of a life long lived. It gives one a sense of the incredible loneliness of ageing and the many little changes which none but the truly aged know. Through all the transformations one things remains constant and immortal—the farmhouse where the author's family has lived for 150 years. These are the scratching of a weary old man. It can be read to get a sense of what it feels like to remembe...
  • Kris Patrick
    A Carnival of Losses caught my attention earlier this year as a BookPage Book of the Day, which I typically view between emails or projects at work. I neglected to place on reserve or mark on goodreads, so I was delighted to find it on the Express Shelf at one of my public libraries yesterday. I’ve borrowed Jane Kenyon collections in the past, but this Carnival gives me reason to revisit with fresh eyes. I also plan to revisit Ox Cart Man. 🐂
  • Mom
    Really, not much in this book. Brief chapters, often less than a page. Lots of anecdotes about fellow poets, which were interesting. Of course, a great deal bout his wife Jane Kenyon who died way too soon. Complaints about aging. Writing was clear and some of the essays were funny, but really, there's not much here. I'll stick to Donald Hall's poems.
  • Peter
    A wonderful book of memories and personal views of life, poetry, other poets and losses. I discovered Donald Hall died in June of this year which of course renders the book even more poignant. Mr Hall was very generous to me on the few occasions we interacted. He was a star in my limited firmament, and I will miss him
  • Rick
    An interesting collection of essays by the poet Donald Hall. The most remarkable thing about the book is that Hall wrote them all on the cusp of turning 90. Clearly he has had the good fortune of retaining an extraordinary mental acuity. I read the book and found it made me hopeful for a long and hopefully productive old age. Sadly Donald Hall died in June of this year he had a great run.
  • Liz Gray
    In his final book, Hall has penned some lovely essays. However, readers of “Essays After Eighty” will experience moments of deja vu, and Hall even repeats himself within the book. I felt as if I was listening to an older person tell the same stories over and over again. Don’t get me wrong, there is gold here, but it would have shone more brightly with some judicious editing.