"These essays are saturated in Pickering's quirky, warm, amusing, and bemused sense of the world."
Author of Robert Frost: A Life and Benjamin's Crossing
No matter where he finds himself, Sam Pickering's thoughts invariably return to his roots. Whether traipsing through a New England field near his home, overhearing a conversation at the local coffee shop, or enjoying idle time in Nova Scotia, he finds connections in life that always seem to lead him back to Tennessee.
Pickering's "little flings" with language-his fleeting, well turned phrases that sparkle for a moment and make one forget weighty significance-fill the essays. With a style renowned for humor and craft, Pickering writes essays that he likens to three-legged stools, equally supported by observations of nature, commentaries on family activities, and anecdotes drawn from memory. A Little Fling and Other Essays brings readers more of this delightful prose.
Pickering captures the rich wonder of daily life: a son's playing high school football, the friendly scorn of a wife long-married to the same conversation, the sound of sparrows flicking tails and cries through brambles. In the course of his verbal strolls, he transports readers to places and states of mind that are both real and mythic. Describing humorous and human characters like Googoo Hooberry and minister Slubey Garts, and events like a "Homegoing" parade, he finds lessons for modern life in the eccentricities of small-town Tennessee. Through his close observations, Pickering reminds us how varied the world is and how it can restore the spirit, examining things we often overlook, like moss or beetles or the quality of November light.
Here, then, are what Pickering describes as "miscellanies green and blue with family doings, ramblings over hill and field, old country tales dressed up and gone to prose." Through essays grounded in his rich sense of the world and a poet's feel for language, he invites readers to recognize bits of their own hours on these pages, to laugh without feeling guilty, and to appreciate the simple glories blooming in their lives.
The Author: Sam Pickering is professor of English at he University of Connecticut and was the inspiration for the character of Professor John Keating in the movie Dead Poets Society. He is the author of more than a dozen other books, the most recent of which are Deprived of Unhappiness and Living to Prowl.