Dec 10, 2018
Throughout my twenties I harboured a strong desire to read the Great Books, but it wasn't until I'd finished university and come across Clifton Fadiman's Lifetime Reading Plan at the now defunct Book Den in Ottawa on MacLaren street, that I started to act seriously on the urge. It, and the 100 books recommended, had and continue to have a profound impact on my life. So, I was thrilled to learn that Anne Fadiman had written a memoir about her father called The Wine Lover's Daughter.
Anne is an essayist and reporter. The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, her account of the cross-cultural conflicts between a Hmong family and the American medical system, won a National Book Critics Circle Award. Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader, is a book about books (buying them, writing in their margins, and arguing with her husband on how to shelve them). At Large and At Small is a collection of essays on Coleridge, postal history, and ice cream, among other topics; it was the source of an encrypted quotation in the New York Times Sunday Acrostic.
I met with Anne at the Brattleboro Literary Festival to talk, among other things, about opening sentences, erotic relationships with wine, male chauvinism, wine libraries, 900 bottles of wine, childhood poverty, Columbia University, leaving parents behind, Jewishness, Irving Wallace, cut roots, John Erskine, Great Books, The Lifetime Reading Plan and life lessons, prisoners, oaklings, Information Please, Harpo Marx, a patrician mid-Atlantic accent, translating Neitsche, retrieving wives, lovers that don't disappoint, Simon and Schuster, The New Yorker, multi-tasking, self-deprecation, counterfeits, mailing home toilet paper, hatred of television, open-mindedness and The New Lifetime Reading Plan, and the ability to take hedonistic pleasure in books and wine.