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
ISBN9781328826343
Author
Release DateJul 10th, 2018
PublisherHoughton Mifflin Harcourt
GenreNonfiction, Writing, Essays, Autobiography, Memoir, Poetry, Biography Memoir
Rating

Reviews A Carnival of Losses

  • Pamela
    2018-08-05
    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...
  • Ken
    2019-02-17
    I had read and enjoyed Hall's previous set of essays, so what was to lose in reading these? Nothing, though much gained. Although some of the material covered subjects read about in the last issue (wife Jane Kenyon's death, his New Hampshire grandparents and Connecticut mom, etc.), Hall also shared a lot of remembrances of things past by touching on the many poets he'd met over the years. Short, some one-page and some two- or three-pages. It's an...
  • Sue
    2018-08-14
    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...
  • Gerri
    2018-07-26
    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...
  • Rick
    2018-08-27
    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
    2018-07-26
    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
    2018-09-30
    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 ...
  • Natalie Tyler
    2019-01-31
    Hall's reflections and memories are haunted by loss. As he continues to stumble through his final years, being a widower becomes not more familiar but more hauntingly depressing. This book does not provide any peppy affirmations about aging but is rather a lament. The lament comes in several forms and digressions. He's spun a verbal web, like the most adroit spider, but the orb of the web and all of its threads are informed by loss and grief. Hal...
  • Rhonda Lomazow
    2018-07-07
    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
    2018-11-26
    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...
  • Joan Colby
    2019-02-03
    Donald Hall who died last year produced a final book of prose subtitled Notes Nearing Ninety. A work of remarkable candor and charm his prose has not suffered from the advent of great age, though it is a subject he treats with wryness, humor and sometimes despair. A number of his essays profile various writers he met throughout his illustrious career and will be of interest to those of a literary bent. The more generalized essays will be enjoyed ...
  • Eric
    2018-07-19
    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 ...
  • Rachel Watkins
    2018-05-06
    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...
  • D.j. Lang
    2018-10-30
    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
    2018-12-09
    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
    2018-09-23
    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...
  • JQAdams
    2018-12-31
    I think I might have read Essays after Eighty, but nothing about it stuck with me, and it's not like the memoir of a poet was ever likely to resonate with someone who usually gets nothing out of poetry. So I probably wouldn't have bothered with this sequel, except it was very small and convenient for the commute at a moment when I was looking for a book like that. And, indeed, it worked well for that purpose; of the book's four sections, three (t...
  • Kay
    2018-09-08
    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 ...
  • Mike
    2019-01-25
    I was enticed to read this book by seeing the opening paragraphs on Twitter. Here's a man, I thought, who can write, with humour, about old age and dealing with it. Well, yes, that was the opening section of a bunch of mostly short 'essays' on a variety of topics which became increasingly less humorous as they proceeded through the book. Many of them left quite a bitter taste in the mouth - and not just because of Hall's ranting about old age or ...
  • Michael
    2018-07-29
    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...
  • Charlotte
    2018-12-31
    This year started early with the death of an internet friend, a photographer, who I never met in person. It continued in spring with the death of a childhood friend, who left the earth not long after a brilliant whirlwind tour of Italy with her long loved husband and beloved daughter. I returned home from a blissful trip out west to the death of the very fine and lovely man I was honored to have as my manager for not nearly enough years. He left ...
  • Denise
    2019-02-06
    4.5 Stars. This was a real pleasure to read. While I know more about Hall's late wife, Jane Kenyon--one of my favorite poets--I was delighted to learn so much more about Hall through these essays and vignettes. I learned that at some point in their marriage he came to understand that Kenyon's craft, and the poems that resulted from it, had surpassed his own. I learned about his own brushes with death before and while writing this book. I particul...
  • Elizabeth
    2018-10-13
    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...
  • Cora
    2019-02-13
    As he approached the age of ninety former poet laureate of the United States, Donald Hall, wrote this collection of essays. In them he reflected on the life of someone approaching the end, reminisced about things that happened to him when he was younger, and recorded his thoughts on his fellow poets. Many of the essays were moving, especially given the perspective of someone who was nearing the end of their life. The section on his thoughts on ot...
  • Brenda
    2018-09-27
    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...
  • Tom Hill
    2019-02-14
    I enjoyed Essays After Eighty more. Hall's recollections of poets he had known or met are interesting, and the last two essays in this book, "Way Way Down, Way Way Up" and "Tree Day" are very good, and more effective I think, because they ended up being his last published writings (which I suspect he suspected might be the case). Both of Hall's last books are most effective when they deal with the losses and the indignities that come with old age...
  • Arthur Okun
    2018-09-23
    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...