Art of the Wasted Day (Hampl)

The Art of the Wasted Day 
Patricia Hampl, 2018
Penguin Publishing
288 pp.

A spirited inquiry into the lost value of leisure and daydream

The Art of the Wasted Day is a picaresque travelogue of leisure written from a lifelong enchantment with solitude.

Patricia Hampl visits the homes of historic exemplars of ease who made repose a goal, even an art form. She begins with two celebrated eighteenth-century Irish ladies who ran off to live a life of "retirement" in rural Wales.

Her search then leads to Moravia to consider the monk-geneticist, Gregor Mendel, and finally to Bordeaux for Michel Montaigne—the hero of this book—who retreated from court life to sit in his chateau tower and write about whatever passed through his mind, thus inventing the personal essay.

Hampl's own life winds through these pilgrimages, from childhood days lazing under a neighbor's beechnut tree, to a fascination with monastic life, and then to love—and the loss of that love which forms this book's silver thread of inquiry.

Finally, a remembered journey down the Mississippi near home in an old cabin cruiser with her husband turns out, after all her international quests, to be the great adventure of her life.

The real job of being human, Hampl finds, is getting lost in thought, something only leisure can provide. The Art of the Wasted Day is a compelling celebration of the purpose and appeal of letting go. (From the publisher.)

Author Bio
Birth—March 12, 1946
Where—St. Paul, Minnesota, USA
Education—B.A., University of Minnesota; M.F.A., University of Iowa
Awards—(see below)
Currently—lives in St. Paul, Minnesota

Patricia Hampl first stepped onto the literary scene with A Romantic Education, a Cold War memoir about her Czech heritage. The Florist's Daughter (2007) is her memoir about her mother's death. Four of her books have been named Notable Books of the Year by the New York Times Book Review. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, Paris Review, Granta, American Scholar, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Best American Short Stories and Best American Essays.

Hampl teaches fall semesters in the English MFA program at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis.

Awards and honors
1976 - Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship
1976 - National Endowment for the Arts Grant
1979 - Bush Foundation Fellowship
1981 - Houghton Mifflin Literary Fellowship
1995 - Fulbright Fellowship
1996 - McKnight Distinguished University Professorship
1999 - Pushcart Prize
2001 - Distinguished Achievement Award, Western Literature Association
(Author bio adapted from the publisher and Wikipedia. Retrieved 4/23/2018.)

Book Reviews
Hampl’s lyrical repetitions and abstractions can be as poetic as prayer.
Wall Street Journal

The Art of the Wasted Day is literary art in and of itself.… Hampl invites readers to take a journey to explore the idea of a life steeped in leisure without schedules.
Washington Post

About how rich life is when one focuses, at least part of the time, on being rather than on doing… it’s about being still, being aware, about seeing what is in front of your eyes, about being open to what one thinks and remembers and feels.
Chicago Tribune

A wise and beautiful ode to the imagination—from a child’s daydreams, to the unexpected revelations encountered in solitary travel, meditation, and reading, to the flights of creativity taken by writers, artists, and philosophers.
Minneapolis Star Tribune

(Starred review) [A] wonderfully lavish and leisurely exploration of the art of daydreaming.… Hampl captures art of day dreaming with astonishing simplicity and clarity in this remarkable and touching book.
Publishers Weekly

(Starred review) An exquisite anatomy of mind and an incandescent reflection on nature, being, and rapture.… Memoirist extraordinaire Hampl [is] a master of judiciously elegant vignettes and surprising, slowing unfurling connections.

(Starred review) Although reveling in solitude, the author is no stranger to loneliness.… [But whereras] loneliness eats away at you," writes the author. "Solitude fills and fills you." A captivating and revelatory memoir.
Kirkus Reviews

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