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Sunday, August 7, 2022

'A Comfortable Voice'


“The most important thing when starting out with essay writing is to find a voice with which you're comfortable. You need to find a persona that is very much like you, but slightly caricatured.” – Anne Fadiman

The daughter of renowned literary, radio, and television personality Clifton Fadimam and World War II correspondent and author Annalee Jacoby Fadiman, Anne Fadiman has been comfortable around celebrity since she was a child.  A Radcliffe grad, she roomed with novelist Wendy Lesser and in the same dorm with Benazir Bhutto and Kathleen Kennedy – all great fodder for her terrific essays.

Fadiman, born this date in 1953, was a founding editor of the Library of Congress magazine Civilization, and has had a great career as a writer, editor and teacher of essays.  But it was her award-winning book The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down that brought her the most acclaim (and many awards). Researched in a small county hospital in California, it examines a Hmong immigrant family and their cultural, linguistic, and medical struggles in seeking treatment for their epileptic child.


She said she is grateful for modern electronics and e-books but prefers a text copy in her hands.

“There is something about holding a book - the smell and the world of association,” she said. “Even when e-books are perfected, as they surely will be, I think it will be like being in bed with a very well-made robot rather than a warm, soft, human being whom you love.”



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