LitBirthdays September 8, 2014

2014 National Book Festival Report

Darling: A Spiritual Autobiography

by Richard Rodriguez

Richard Rodriguez

Richard Rodriguez talks about life and the essays in his book. (Excerpts from his speech at the 2014 National Book Festival)

Introduction and the death of religion

(5 minutes)

Lost touch with the local

(5 minutes)

Women and the darkness of the cave

(5 minutes)

Mother Teresa and questions

(11 minutes)

From the Booklist description:

“Richard Rodriguez may be the most empathic essayist in America….His sentences are reliable joys: liquid and casual, they slip in and out of philosophy and anecdote noiselessly, like people padding through an empty chapel, expecting to hear nothing more than the sound of their own passage.”

(Sasha Frere-Jones, The New Yorker)

From reader reviews:

This is essay writing carried to the highest level of art, but without the stuffy sound of that term, if that’s what it has for you. He is never ponderous, always engaging. He collages more than he used to, bits and pieces of historical or topical writing, jumps back and forth from past to present, turns on a dime from universal to personal, and allows full range to his erudition, which is considerable. (Bartolo)

If there is a uniting thread in this collection, it is the essays devoted to examination of the three religions that sprang of desert origins–Judaism, Christianity and Islam. The author’s own ambivalent but steady connection to Catholicism is examined throughout, particularly when he is musing about homosexuality and women. His observations on these subjects are compelling and authentic. (Barry Ballow)

Richard Rodriguez is a compelling oral essayist. The voice, the perpetual expression of sadness, the complex mix of cultures he personifies produce an often arresting composite on TV where we can see and hear him. I am sorry to say I was disappointed by cold words on the printed page, which I found disjointed and often incomprehensible. This seems to be a collection of essays tied together by the label “spiritual autobiography” which it did not seem to be, at a level I could understand. I did find one bright spot: his praise of the “heroic women” — the Sisters of Mercy who educated him– is moving, and long overdue in our culture. (Dr. Jay)





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