Phillip Lopate's richest and most ambitious bookyet—the final volume of a trilogy that began withBachelorhood and AgainstJoie de Vivre—Portrait of MyBody is a powerful memoir in the form ofinterconnected personal essays. One of America'sforemost essayists, who helped focus attention onthe form in his acclaimed anthology TheArt of the Personal Essay, Lopatedemonstrates here just how far a writer can go in thedirection of honesty and risktaking.
In thirteen essays, Lopate explores theresources and limits of the self, its many disguises,excuses, and unmaskings, with his characteristicwry humor and insight. From the title essay, ahilarious physical self-exam, to the hauntingportrait of his ex-colleague Donald Barthelme, to thebittersweet account of his long-delayed surrenderto marriage, "On Leaving Bachelorhood,"Lopate wrestles with finding the proper balancebetween detachment and empathy, doubt andconviction. In other essays, he celebrates his love offilm and city life, and reflects on his religiousidentity as a Jew. A wrenchingly vivid,unforgettable portrait of the author's eccentric,solipsistic, aged father, a self-proclaimed failure, isthe centerpiece of a suite of essays aboutfather-figures and resisted mentors. The book ends withthe author's own introduction to fatherhood, aswitness to the birth of his daughter.
A book that will engage readers with itsconversational eloquence, skeptical intelligence,candor, and mischief, Portrait of MyBody is a captivating work of literarynonfiction.