If you, avid reader, like to read about reading as much as you love to read, pick up these essays by Peter Orner. Mostly literary and somewhat personal or mostly personal and somewhat literary, they're all terrific and inspiring.— From Memoirs & Essays
“From beloved novelist and short-story writer Peter Orner comes a collection of essays on the reading life. Orner considers Chekhov in a hospital cafeteria, Welty on a remote island. He also throws Julian Barnes out the window of a moving car - after all, who would trust a man who only talked about what he loved? Behind and around and between these meditations flit the ghosts of the author's life: his late father, his lost marriage, his self-deprecating take on his own career. The result is a book overflowing with charm - wry, delectable, and laugh-out-loud funny. Orner is a writer's writer, but he is also a reader's reader. Am I Alone Here? is an absolute treasure.”
— Mairead Stead (M), Literati Bookstore, Ann Arbor, MI
A National Book Critics Circle Award finalist in Criticism - A November 2016 American Booksellers Association Indie Next List Selection - A Buzzfeed Best Nonfiction Book of 2016 - A San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of 2016
"An entrancing attempt to catch what falls between literary criticism and autobiography]: the irreducibly personal, messy, even embarrassing ways reading and living bleed into each other, which neither literary criticism nor autobiography ever quite acknowledges." --The New York Times"Stories, both my own and those I've taken to heart, make up whoever it is that I've become," Peter Orner writes in this collection of essays about reading, writing, and living. Orner reads--and writes--everywhere he finds himself: a hospital cafeteria, a coffee shop in Albania, or a crowded bus in Haiti. The result is "a book of unlearned meditations that stumbles into memoir." Among the many writers Orner addresses are Isaac Babel and Zora Neale Hurston, both of whom told their truths and were silenced; Franz Kafka, who professed loneliness but craved connection; Robert Walser, who spent the last twenty-three years of his life in a Swiss insane asylum, "working" at being crazy; and Juan Rulfo, who practiced the difficult art of silence. Virginia Woolf, Eudora Welty, Yasunari Kawabata, Saul Bellow, Mavis Gallant, John Edgar Wideman, William Trevor, and Vaclav Havel make appearances, as well as the poet Herbert Morris--about whom almost nothing is known. An elegy for an eccentric late father, and the end of a marriage, Am I Alone Here? is also a celebration of the possibility of renewal. At once personal and panoramic, this book will inspire readers to return to the essential stories of their own lives.