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Too personal for an almanac, too sophisticated for a domestic history, and too funny and self-doubting for a literary journal, One Man's Meat can best be described as a primer of a countryman's lessons a timeless recounting of experience that will never go out of style. Too personal for an almanac, too sophisticated for a domestic history, and too funny and self-doubting for a literary journal, One Man's Meat can best be described as a primer of a countryman's lessons a timeless recounting of experience that will never go out of style.


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Too personal for an almanac, too sophisticated for a domestic history, and too funny and self-doubting for a literary journal, One Man's Meat can best be described as a primer of a countryman's lessons a timeless recounting of experience that will never go out of style. Too personal for an almanac, too sophisticated for a domestic history, and too funny and self-doubting for a literary journal, One Man's Meat can best be described as a primer of a countryman's lessons a timeless recounting of experience that will never go out of style.

30 review for One Man's Meat

  1. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    If you desire twists and turns and cheap thrills in your reading, then this is not the ride for you. These are Mr. White's ruminations from a pre-American involvement of WWII, up until December of 1942. They are quiet; they are sublime. They are not to be rushed. In fact, I found myself at the end of each essay in a sort of hushed awe. I rarely wanted to read more than one per night. They're too precious. If you don't know Andy (the beloved Mr. White's nickname), I can't recommend him more. At a If you desire twists and turns and cheap thrills in your reading, then this is not the ride for you. These are Mr. White's ruminations from a pre-American involvement of WWII, up until December of 1942. They are quiet; they are sublime. They are not to be rushed. In fact, I found myself at the end of each essay in a sort of hushed awe. I rarely wanted to read more than one per night. They're too precious. If you don't know Andy (the beloved Mr. White's nickname), I can't recommend him more. At a time when so many other writers were misogynistic or racist or old-fashioned or more, he manages to be fresh and modern and non-judgemental, in the current day. And his observations? So. . . clever, so heart-breaking. I could fill this review many times over with his words. But instead, I'll leave you with this one lovely, thought-provoking passage: Freedom is a household word now, but it's only once in a while that you see a man who is actively, almost belligerently free. It struck me as we worked our way homeward up the rough bay with our catch of lobsters and a fresh breeze in our teeth that this was what the fight was all about. This was it. Either we would continue to have it or we wouldn't, this right to speak our own minds, haul our own traps, mind our own business, and wallow in the wide, wide sea. Dearest Andy. I love you so.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Chrissie

    E. B. White, didn't just write Charlotte's Web and Stuart Little. He wrote this, and it too is excellent. He is one of those few authors who write equally well for both children and adults. In 1938 he left NYC, picked up his wife and young son Joel and moved to a saltwater farm in Maine. He became a farmer while at the same time writing as a columnist for Harpers. Both he and his wife also continued their respective jobs at New Yorker! E.B., that is Elwyn Brooks (1899 – 1985), had been working t E. B. White, didn't just write Charlotte's Web and Stuart Little. He wrote this, and it too is excellent. He is one of those few authors who write equally well for both children and adults. In 1938 he left NYC, picked up his wife and young son Joel and moved to a saltwater farm in Maine. He became a farmer while at the same time writing as a columnist for Harpers. Both he and his wife also continued their respective jobs at New Yorker! E.B., that is Elwyn Brooks (1899 – 1985), had been working there since 1927; he wrote for the magazine for six decades! With four incomes there is no denying that they were quite well off, but this says nothing about what was demanded of them in hard work. We follow the day to day life on the farm from July 1938 to Jan 1943. In the background is the war. The chapters move forward chronologically, pretty much month by month. Besides crops, he has sheep and pigs and chickens, and finally a cow at the book's end. He progressed from small utters to the big. We can label him as a farmer, but actually he was a handyman of all trades. He writes and he thinks and he tells us his thoughts – on politics, diplomacy, isolationism, religion, education, on dogs, chickens and sheep and what it takes to be a farmer. A job beyond the ability of many! He methodically accounts for expenditures and incomes, lambs the ewes in spring, and fuels the fire so the chicks don’t freeze. He shoots the rats in the barn. Lays out the hay and incessantly, incessantly does repairs. There is a wonderful chapter entitled October 1941 - Memorandum . It is lengthy and it is what he must do now, or at least later today, sentences that start with 'I ought to" and "I should also" and "I think I'd better" and "I must". After reading this you begin to truly, truly understand the life of a farmer….and him. We see his life day by day and hour by hour, and it is not boring. No, not boring in the least. There is humor in how it is told and he is extremely clever with his words. We come to understand how it was to be in living in those times and the overhanging threat of war. We have here an intelligent, thinking human being that expresses himself wonderfully. Without the excellent prose this just might have been boring. Absolutely marvelous lines. I will give you but a few: Here White is describing the behavior of New Yorkers. And the mass urgency there, under the marquee, as though unless they all escape safely into a cab within five minutes they would die. A train conductor is a man who has travelled far but gotten nowhere. An airing of how all too many people treat religion. Religion is tucked away in a bottom drawer for things we love but never use. A poet unzips the veil from beauty, but does not remove it. And his wife states, “I wish poets would be clearer! There is more to a journey than the mere arrival. I remember the days by the dent they made on me. On the funny side? Well there is tongue in cheek humor in just about every line. There are lambs sitting on goose eggs. There is the annual town meeting where everything is decided beforehand; “the meeting is just to make everything legal.” Then there is the puppy, Dusty, continually “jumping up to kiss someone’s face.” When the farm’s eggs became too many, they had to eat hem for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Even the martinis had to be swapped for eggnogs. That was just too much to bear! I am not giving it a full five stars because some portions didn't speak to me; I think they went over my head. Maybe I didn't understand what exactly the author intended. Probably the meaning was clearer to those of his time. There isn’t much of this though. The audiobook is narrated by Malcolm Hillgartner. Excellently done. He just reads it. He gives you time to think. There are pauses so you have time to laugh. He speaks clearly. Five stars for the narration. It is unimprovable! I don't usually like essays, and I don't usually like short stories, but these chapters hold together. There is so much to think about and so much to smile at. They give us a peek into the farmer/author's life from July 1938 to January 1943 and of the mood in New England with first the threat and then the outbreak of war. It really is a marvelous read. A couple of years ago, I tried to learn more about E.B. White so I picked up The Story of Charlotte's Web: E.B. White's Eccentric Life in Nature and the Birth of an American Classic by Michael Sims. I cannot say I was all that impressed, and here is why: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... If you love an author because of their writing, you cannot get that except from the books they write!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Betsy Robinson

    One Man’s Meat by E. B. White This house, this house now held in Sunday’s fearful grip, is a hundred and twenty years old. I am wondering what Sabbaths it has known. Here where I sit, grandfather H. used to sit, they tell me—always right here. He would be surprised were he here this morning to note that the seams in the floor have opened wide from the dry heat of the furnace, revealing the accumulation of a century of dust and crumbs and trouble and giving quite a good view of the cellar. (46) For One Man’s Meat by E. B. White This house, this house now held in Sunday’s fearful grip, is a hundred and twenty years old. I am wondering what Sabbaths it has known. Here where I sit, grandfather H. used to sit, they tell me—always right here. He would be surprised were he here this morning to note that the seams in the floor have opened wide from the dry heat of the furnace, revealing the accumulation of a century of dust and crumbs and trouble and giving quite a good view of the cellar. (46) For the last six days, I have been inhaling my mother’s 1944 edition of E. B. White’s volume of heavenly essays, written between 1938 and 1943 when White was both farming in Maine and doing his duty as a watchman to support the War effort. My edition lacks a dust cover but has an inscription dated 10/27/45 from a long-dead friend to my now-dead mother, Edna, on the occasion of her twenty-fourth birthday. This browning tome has been on my shelf for decades. And when I finally took it down and began to read, I almost drowned in the accrued feelings: This book, this book is seventy-five years old. And I am wondering about all the hands that held it—from the printer’s to warehouse workers’ to bookstore clerks’ to my mother’s dear friend Tommy, to young, optimistic Edna, a budding writer, who—once we were both finally grown up enough to be friends—often mentioned E. B. White and kept this book through marriage, popped fantasy bubbles, and numerous dwellings. We never talked much about books, and although I remember her expressing reverence for White’s writing, in my arrogance, ignorance, and youth, I never thought to explore his work beyond Stuart Little, which was enough to make him my hero for life. (I didn’t see the need to read Charlotte’s Web until a few years ago when it beckoned from my top shelf and ended up being a driving force in my own novel, The Last Will & Testament of Zelda McFigg—so it was research. I blush at my oblivion.) Edna died in 1990 at age sixty-eight, the age I will turn in two days, and I want her back so we can talk: “I get it! I get it!” I cry. “If only I had known more when you were alive so we could share our love for Andy White.” E. B. White was all of forty-four, or thereabouts, when he wrote these anthologized essays for Harper’s Magazine and The New Yorker. A “personal record,” he calls it in the Foreword. “It is a collection of essays which I wrote from a salt water farm in Maine while engaged in trivial, peaceable pursuits” as an “over-age male” who was restless during the war. He was only a few years older than I was when my mother died, and yet he knew so much more than I ever will. He is a writer’s god and his voice is so vital that one senses him, as if both of you are hanging out in the 1940s, talking about farm animals in spring, barn building, and Hitler as a contemporary person of interest, and, although you may blanch at occasional casual linguistic racism, there is nothing at all awkward about this time jumping. In fact, White articulates the very sensation of normal time-jumping in a stunning essay, "Once More to the Lake," about feeling as if he were inhabiting his own father when he took his son to his own boyhood fishing haunt: "There had been no years between the ducking of this dragonfly and the other one—the one that was part of memory. I looked at the boy, who was silently watching his fly, and it was my hands that held his rod, my eyes watching. I felt dizzy and didn't know which rod I was at the end of." (248) E. B. White is some writer! Some quotes: [Regarding a writer who has sworn off writing anything that is not good and significant:] Having resolved to be nothing but significant, he is in a fair way to lose his effectiveness. A writer must believe in something, obviously, but he shouldn’t join a club. Letters flourish not when writers amalgamate, but when they are contemptuous of one another. (Poets are the most contemptuous of all the writing breeds, and in the long run the most exalted and influential.) Even in evil times, a writer should cultivate only what naturally absorbs his fancy, whether it be freedom or cinch bugs, and should write in the way that comes easy. (43) In a free country it is the duty of writers to pay no attention to duty. Only under a dictatorship is literature expected to exhibit an harmonious design or an inspirational tone. A despot doesn’t fear eloquent writers preaching freedom—he fears a drunken poet who may crack a joke that will take hold. (43)Above two quotes written in January 1939 Monday. The cat, David, is lying beside me, a most unsatisfactory arrangement, as he gives me hay fever. My sensitivity to cats defeats the whole purpose of a cat, which is to introduce a note of peace in a room. (60)April 1939 The cells of the body co-operate to make the man; the men co-operate to make the society. But there is a contradiction baffling to biologist and layman alike. On the same day last spring that I saw a flight of geese passing over on their way to the lonely lakes of the north (a co-operative formation suggesting a tactical advantage imitated by our air corps)—on that same day cannibalism broke out among my baby chicks and I observed the brutality with which the group will turn upon an individual, literally picking his guts out. This is the antithesis of co-operation—a contrariness not unobserved in our own circles. (I recently read of a member of an actors’ union biting another actor quite hard. I believe it was over some difference in the means of co-operation.) (89)July 1939 I just want to tell before I am slowed down, that I am in love with freedom and that it is an affair of long standing and that it is a fine state to be in, and that I am deeply suspicious of people who are beginning to adjust to fascism and dictators merely because they are succeeding in war. From such adaptable natures a smell rises. I pinch my nose. (168)July 1940 In this spring of 1941 a man tends his [brooder—to keep chicks warm] fire in a trance that is all the deeper because of its dreamlike unreality, things being as they are in the world. I sometimes think I am crazy—everybody else fighting and dying or working for a cause or writing to his senator, and me looking after some Barred Rock chickens. But the land, and the creatures that go with it, are what is left that is good, and they are the authors of the book that I find worth reading; and anyway a man has to live according to his lights even if his lights are the red coals in the base of a firepot. (236)April 1941 [Right after the bombing of Pearl Harbor] To hold America in one's thoughts is like holding a love letter in one's hand—it has so special a meaning. Since I started writing this column snow has begun falling again; I sit in my room watching the re-enactment of this stagy old phenomenon outside the window. For this picture, for this privilege, this cameo of New England with snow falling, I would give everything. Yet all the time I know that this very loyalty, this feeling of being part of a special place, this respect for one's native scene—I know that such emotions have had a big part in the world's wars. Who is there big enough to love the whole planet? We must find such people for the next society. (276)December 1941 Thursday In time, ownership of property will probably carry with it certain obligations, over and above the obligation to pay the tax and keep the mortgage going. . . . [P]eople are beginning to suspect that the greatest freedom is not achieved by sheer irresponsibility. The earth is common ground and we are overlords, whether we hold title or not; gradually the idea is taking form that the land must be held in safekeeping, that one generation is to some extent responsible to the next, and that it is contrary to the public good to allow an individual merely because of his whims or his ambitions, to destroy almost beyond repair any part of the soil or the water or even the view. (333-334) The trend toward the ownership of land by fewer and fewer individuals is, it seems to me, a disastrous thing. For when too large a proportion of the populace is supporting itself by the indirections of trade and business and commerce and art and the million schemes of men in cities, then the complexity of society is likely to become so great as to destroy its equilibrium, and it will always be out of balance in some way. But if a considerable portion of the people are occupied wholly or partially in labors which directly supply them with many things which they want, or think they want, whether it be a sweet pea or a sour pickle, then the public poise will be a good deal harder to upset. (334) The trouble with the profit system has always been that it was highly unprofitable to most people. The profits went to the few, the work went to the many. I think our phrase “common man” came to mean the man who never managed to get his hands on anything but a pay envelope, and sometimes not that. You became uncommon when you had capital to invest or an idea to develop. Usually you had neither, and were common as dirt. Profits flowed into closely guarded channels which led into a mysterious sea. (339)So wrote E. B. White from his farm in Maine in November of 1942, as he made his contribution to the war effort, while simultaneously disparaging the buzz from the “ad men” who distorted the grueling reality. Included in these essays is one about the inundation of children’s books White suffered every year when his wife, writer and editor Katherine, received review copies of new books. He is funny and sarcastic, but also he is clearly studying them—interesting, because this book was compiled several years before Stuart Little and Charlotte’s Web were even an idea. (Here is a letter to his editor about the true Charlotte who inspired Charlotte’s Web.)

  4. 5 out of 5

    Bonny

    If ever I was to meet my soul-mate in book form, I believe it would be E.B. White's One Man's Meat. While reading this collection of his essays written between 1938 and 1943, I was continually struck by how White's personal recountings of his daily life and thoughts could be so applicable to me, a 59-year-old woman living her life 70 plus years later. White writes with thoughtfulness, insight, wit, and humor about roofing his barn while war looms, bringing a cow home after his personal probation If ever I was to meet my soul-mate in book form, I believe it would be E.B. White's One Man's Meat. While reading this collection of his essays written between 1938 and 1943, I was continually struck by how White's personal recountings of his daily life and thoughts could be so applicable to me, a 59-year-old woman living her life 70 plus years later. White writes with thoughtfulness, insight, wit, and humor about roofing his barn while war looms, bringing a cow home after his personal probationary period practicing on sheep, and the bittersweet experience of taking his son to fish at the lake where he had fished with his own father. His essays aren't just personal musings; White also intertwines world politics and the dreadful feelings of fear leading up to World War II. He is one of the very few authors I have read that can combine both the internal personal and the world outside with his spare, honest writing and perfect word choices. In addition to the painful reminders of dark times such as "I keep forgetting that soldiers are so young," there are also delightfully prescient glimpses into the possible beginnings of Charlotte's Web with White's observations about rats, geese, and runt piglets. One Man's Meat is poignant, reasonable, clear, and one of the best books I have ever read.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Mel

    One Man’s Meat is a collection of essays written by White in the late 1930s and early 1940s. White interjects world politics, children’s literature and farming in to this eclectic series of essays that have an eternal quality to them. White’s ability to blend several topics into one coherent essay is humbling to this writer. I was very fascinated by the way White intertwined the completely mundane with the overwhelming world, here is just one example: “While the old wars rage and the new ones han One Man’s Meat is a collection of essays written by White in the late 1930s and early 1940s. White interjects world politics, children’s literature and farming in to this eclectic series of essays that have an eternal quality to them. White’s ability to blend several topics into one coherent essay is humbling to this writer. I was very fascinated by the way White intertwined the completely mundane with the overwhelming world, here is just one example: “While the old wars rage and the new ones hang like hawks above the world, we, the unholy innocents, study the bulb catalogue and order one dozen paper-white Grandiflora Narcissus (60 cents) to be grown in a bowl of pebbles. To the list my wife made out I have added one large root of bleeding heart to remind us daily of wounded soldiers and tortured Jews.” (14) Let’s look at catalogues, oh by the way there is this awful thing going on and you should think about that! He used this technique successfully, in my opinion, throughout the text. Of everything I read during this period, the craft of this text impressed me the most (which surprised me because I did not like Charlotte or Stuart). In places it appeared stream of consciousness, while in others crisp journalistic prose. In no situation did he seem to not be in control of the writing. White’s original/intended audience likely didn’t read his work as critically, or perhaps as writers would. White offers his reader a lot of carrots. A “regular” reader of his work in Harpers may come to expect a level of politics in his essays—because, at least at this point in his writing, it is present more often than not. White had to have been aware of that. In my opinion, White is a consummate writer. It appears, over the distance of sixty years, that he was concerned about his audience. He is both eloquent and economic in his use of the language. He has shown amazing discipline, craft-wise. He didn’t send me searching for obscure references, I wasn’t lost in a maze of footnotes, reading dictionary in hand, working to decipher meaning, there were precious few dead-ends in the text, and I wasn’t left asking why. Occasionally, I checked a World War II timeline – to refresh my memory as to the order of events (I remember being surprised at how early he was writing about the Holocaust in an American publication)—but it was strictly for my own edification—such clarity was not necessary for the content of any specific essay. One can see the future writer of children’s books in many of the essays. His use of vivid imagery is, to me, amazing – who couldn’t see those peeps/chicks huddled up in overcoats? Or a crazed over-stimulated dog? Or even a trailer park in the Keys? He didn’t show us anything – he immersed us in it: the sights, smells, feels and the emotional impact of each situation. And yet, he rarely loses the context of the larger world around him—this is the approach most successful writers of juvenile literature write. I think we lose something if we don’t read for the beauty in a piece—what is meaning without beauty, even if that beauty is terrible (as Yeats suggests). When the artistry is completely removed we end up with Duchamp’s Fountain (1917) and not Bernini’s Trevi Fountain (1629) in Rome. Over time bold political statements fade away and all that remains is the beauty. As to “One Man’s Meat”, what White is saying is there is no such thing no matter how far one works to remove themselves from the whole – we are all in this together. He comes back to this over and over again in some very subtle ways, in hunting, in school trips, in helping his neighbor with the sick ewe, in taking the government subsidy (and thus connecting himself to a larger structure). Even in the beginning with the $450 turkey – he is acknowledging that we are interdependent. We depend on our community as individuals – and nations must depend on a world community. In “The Practical Farmer” he acknowledges that his taste in meat (so to speak) may not be for everyone—and that it does take an outside income to survive. It is important to remember that these essays originally appeared in 3-4pg segments. Two-hundred-seventy-five pages of farming, fishing, and foreign affairs might seem overwhelming – four pages might not. This text successful as a whole.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Ron

    This collection of essays is such a fine book; it deserves a much better commentary than it currently has here. And given the times we live in, its subject matter is particularly timely for American readers -- the period of history leading up to the attack on Pearl Harbor and the early years of the war effort -- all told from the point of view of a thoughtful writer on a small farm in Maine. White had moved there with his wife and young son from New York, where he'd been writing for The New Yorke This collection of essays is such a fine book; it deserves a much better commentary than it currently has here. And given the times we live in, its subject matter is particularly timely for American readers -- the period of history leading up to the attack on Pearl Harbor and the early years of the war effort -- all told from the point of view of a thoughtful writer on a small farm in Maine. White had moved there with his wife and young son from New York, where he'd been writing for The New Yorker, and took up country living, turning his attention to the annual round of the seasons, farm work, the nearby seaside, and the company of independent rural people. Most of the essays in this collection were written and published monthly in Harpers from July 1938 to January 1943. In them, there is White's awareness of the ominous threat of fascism emerging in Europe, as well as the vulnerability that Americans felt as they found themselves facing prolonged armed conflict with powerful enemies. These were dark days, and they provide a constant undertone in these otherwise upbeat essays about rural and small-town life. And they are upbeat, celebrating the pleasures and gentle ironies of daily life with a few side trips into the world beyond -- the birth of a lamb, paying taxes, farm dogs, hay fever, raising chickens, Sunday mornings, radio broadcasts, civil defense drills, a visit to Walden pond, a day at the World's Fair, and unrealistic Hollywood portrayals of the pastoral. There is also here his famous essay "Once More to the Lake." In many ways, the world he writes about is gone forever. But it's a world whose spirit remains at the heart of the national identity -- participatory democracy, individualism, citizenship, self-discovery, and self-reliance. Reading these essays, while they are often about seemingly trivial matters, you sense White's deepening faith in the American Experiment -- a belief in America as a work in progress. And, of course, there is the famous White style, both simple and elegant. Its language, sentence structure, and movement of thought convey both sharpness of mind and generosity of spirit, in a manner that looks and sounds easy, but it is very hard to imitate. I recommend this book to anyone with an interest in the WWII home front, the essay as a literary form, and a curiosity about rural life before farm subsidies and agribusiness.

  7. 5 out of 5

    James Henderson

    The essays of E. B. White in his delightful collection, One Man's Meat, represent a style of writing that is very welcoming to the reader. I found myself laughing out loud at his subtle humor and, while some in our Thursday night book group found the book somewhat superficial, I found a connection that suggested deeper thoughts. Written in the late 30's and early 40s during the approach of and beginning of World War II, White's essays comment on the world around him and chronicle his life on a f The essays of E. B. White in his delightful collection, One Man's Meat, represent a style of writing that is very welcoming to the reader. I found myself laughing out loud at his subtle humor and, while some in our Thursday night book group found the book somewhat superficial, I found a connection that suggested deeper thoughts. Written in the late 30's and early 40s during the approach of and beginning of World War II, White's essays comment on the world around him and chronicle his life on a farm in Maine as he gradually comes to grips with country living. In many instances they seem very contemporary in spite of having been written more than fifty years ago. A long time contributor to The New Yorker, one recognizes the "New Yorker style" in White's writing. One of our group found a resemblance to Joseph Mitchell's Up in the Old Hotel which we had read several years ago. Certainly this was a great read with my enjoyment augmented by both the down to earth meditations and wonderful style.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Alison

    Simply put this is one of my favorite books of all time. I was sad to get to the end. I love to read essays, love to write essays, but this is more than just about reading someone who is a master of the format. Somehow, this collection of incredibly funny, sweet, personal and very masculine stories is put together in such a way (either by editing or by their own natural chronological order) that they form a story of his life just before and during the start of WWII. He comes alive in these pages Simply put this is one of my favorite books of all time. I was sad to get to the end. I love to read essays, love to write essays, but this is more than just about reading someone who is a master of the format. Somehow, this collection of incredibly funny, sweet, personal and very masculine stories is put together in such a way (either by editing or by their own natural chronological order) that they form a story of his life just before and during the start of WWII. He comes alive in these pages. I sometimes forgot I was reading essays -- they are so rich that they go beyond in my head and now feel like anecdotes told to me by a really good friend. I have no idea what to read now. Everything seems to pale in comparison at the moment. It is that good and I need to get a hardcopy for myself so that I can have it for decades to come and pull it down to read when I need to hear from an old friend. Really. It is that powerful.

  9. 4 out of 5

    David West

    A very unique collection of essays. Some were just so so, but there were some moments of literary brilliance. The subjects range from thoughts on world affairs to raising chickens and the design of automobiles.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Christine Boyer

    Hmmm. I thought I would love this as I loved Here Is New York, but for some reason I didn't. This was a collection of essays, some were good, some were not. I found his writing to be somewhat circuitous and hard to follow. Also, I must say I was a little put off. I never like that sort of city boy discovers country boys are smarter than they look theme. It was supposed to be self-effacing, but it came off as arrogant. Not only is that kind of message insulting to the "country bumpkin" but it is Hmmm. I thought I would love this as I loved Here Is New York, but for some reason I didn't. This was a collection of essays, some were good, some were not. I found his writing to be somewhat circuitous and hard to follow. Also, I must say I was a little put off. I never like that sort of city boy discovers country boys are smarter than they look theme. It was supposed to be self-effacing, but it came off as arrogant. Not only is that kind of message insulting to the "country bumpkin" but it is a knock on city folk, too. The mentality that the simplicity of farm life is "where it's at" and that city people just don't get it. I'm sure that wasn't his intent, but that's how it came across to me. I'm still going as high a 3 stars for some excellent lines and clever wit. I also enjoyed the diary feeling of it especially since it was written in those years leading up to WWII. Interesting from a historical aspect.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Debbie

    I just love to read EB White's essays and this collection was especially enjoyable. These essays were written between 1938 and 1943 and gave an idea of what life was like in rural America during the early years of the war. My dad grew up on a small farm in upstate NY and so many of these essays reminded me of stories my dad would tell about this time. This is a book I will dip into and read over and over again. I just love to read EB White's essays and this collection was especially enjoyable. These essays were written between 1938 and 1943 and gave an idea of what life was like in rural America during the early years of the war. My dad grew up on a small farm in upstate NY and so many of these essays reminded me of stories my dad would tell about this time. This is a book I will dip into and read over and over again.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Mike

    1968 was the worst year ever. MLK and RFK. Riots. Viet Nam. An unrelentingly bad outlook for a mostly clueless college junior turning 21 that summer and thinking a lot about what sort of world he would be graduating into the following year (a much better year!). Drugs and beer brought no relief that summer of '68, only heightened paranoia and deeper depression. Books and music saved me. Among these was E.B.White's "One Man's Meat." A celebration of life. Natural peacefulness. Great writing. I'd 1968 was the worst year ever. MLK and RFK. Riots. Viet Nam. An unrelentingly bad outlook for a mostly clueless college junior turning 21 that summer and thinking a lot about what sort of world he would be graduating into the following year (a much better year!). Drugs and beer brought no relief that summer of '68, only heightened paranoia and deeper depression. Books and music saved me. Among these was E.B.White's "One Man's Meat." A celebration of life. Natural peacefulness. Great writing. I'd read Strunk and White in Freshman English. "Omit needless words" was a mantra. I pursued clear and concise writing that said something meaningful in an elegant, graceful way. "One Man's Meat" became my paragon for prose, and has remained so. I recommend it to anyone, but especially to people who love good writing and need healing. I am very impatient with anyone who would have us go back to a better time in America. Times don't really change much. But how we see them does, apparently. White was an intelligent observer of some very awful events in the 30s and early 40s, but gave us a clear, untinted lens through which to view world events in any time. Today, it's hard to find this kind of seer. Read "One Man's Meat" and then go back to reading the news and today's observers. Compare and contrast. Repeat as needed.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jamie

    After Essays of E.B. White, I couldn't stop. I needed more. I picked up One Man's Meat because it sounded interesting. And it was. The book collects a column that White wrote for Harper's in the early 1940s. Many of the articles are about life on his farm, and I enjoyed those the most. I like the subtle humor that comes across in these pieces. I like the voice he's created, and I admire the compactness of thought that makes his writing crisp. If nothing else, reading these essays has put in my mi After Essays of E.B. White, I couldn't stop. I needed more. I picked up One Man's Meat because it sounded interesting. And it was. The book collects a column that White wrote for Harper's in the early 1940s. Many of the articles are about life on his farm, and I enjoyed those the most. I like the subtle humor that comes across in these pieces. I like the voice he's created, and I admire the compactness of thought that makes his writing crisp. If nothing else, reading these essays has put in my mind Rule 17 in The Elements of Style: omit needless words. It also made me envious of the farm life White had up in Maine. The grass is always greener, but it sure seems pleasant.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Mary

    I am a huge fan of E.B. White's essays. This collection, all written in the late 1930's and very early 40's, is often a time capsule from small-town American life in the early years of WWII - certainly not simpler or easier times, but maybe kinder and less complicated. White writes beautifully; he has a wonderful eye (and ear) for details. Truly, he's a pleasure to read. and savor. I can't remember the last time I spent four months on a book (although I probably read the last half of it in a wee I am a huge fan of E.B. White's essays. This collection, all written in the late 1930's and very early 40's, is often a time capsule from small-town American life in the early years of WWII - certainly not simpler or easier times, but maybe kinder and less complicated. White writes beautifully; he has a wonderful eye (and ear) for details. Truly, he's a pleasure to read. and savor. I can't remember the last time I spent four months on a book (although I probably read the last half of it in a week!)

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jef Sneider

    A wonderful book. I think of E.B. White every time I straighten a rug. He found himself wandering around his apartment doing just that when he decided to head out to the country to try a different type of life. Good idea for him, but I still straighten rugs all the time.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Courtney Johnston

    A deeply perplexing long-short little book. I kept putting it down and then it would worry away at the edge of mind mind, so, in a dogged mood, I finished off, letting myself skip and skim a few of the many essays. 'One Man's Meat' is a anthology of columns written under that name by White for 'Harper's Magazine' (plus three essays written for the New Yorker) between July 1938 and January 1943. As White writes in his introduction: 'One Man's Meat' is, as the title suggests, a personal record. It is A deeply perplexing long-short little book. I kept putting it down and then it would worry away at the edge of mind mind, so, in a dogged mood, I finished off, letting myself skip and skim a few of the many essays. 'One Man's Meat' is a anthology of columns written under that name by White for 'Harper's Magazine' (plus three essays written for the New Yorker) between July 1938 and January 1943. As White writes in his introduction: 'One Man's Meat' is, as the title suggests, a personal record. It is a collection of essays which I wrote from a salt water farm in Maine while engaged in trivial, peaceful pursuits, knowing all the time that the world hadn't arranged any true peace or granted anyone the privilege of indulging himself for long in trivialities. White was running a functioning farm while continuing in his editorial role for the New Yorker and writing for Harpers; he lived in Maine with his wife, Katherine Angall White (also a New Yorker editor working long-distance - one of the essays describes - often mockingly - the content of the influx of children's books for her to review at year's end) and their young son Joel. The early essays have something of a fey tone to them - a look-at-this-funny-man tone, playacting to the reader. This is exemplified in a humourous listing of what his goose has cost him, from 30 cents for the egg to attributing to it 1/10th of the cost of 'installing low-pressure steam heat in dwelling house so we can survive in this climate on Thanksgiving Day' - his goose comes out costing him a grand total of $402.85. As the years pass, White's distancing of himself from his farming activities seems to fade away, as his skills and experience grow. One of the chapters I best liked was about his preparations for bringing a cow home, four years after moving to the farm: ... I felt the need of a personal probationary period. If a man expects his cow to have freshened before he gets her she has a right to expect that some important change will have been worked in him too. I didn't want a cow until I could meet her on her own ground, until I was ready, until I knew as much about the country as she did - otherwise it would embarrass me to be in her presence ... My first move was to purchase fifteen sheep and a case of dynamite. The sheep were to improve the pasture, and to practice on ('I had no desire to have a cow on the place until I had learned how an udder worked, and my first lambing taught me a lot about that. The way to learn to sail a big boat is to first sail a little one, because the little one is so much harder to manage. The same is true of udders.') and the dynamite to blow up large rocks strewn in his pasture for clearing. From here, White planned and built his cow byre ('One night after dark I went to the barn with a two-foot rule and a flashlight and measured up the job, working carefully and late, in pitch black except for the concentrated beam of the flash - an odd tryst, as I think back on it, but part of my beautiful romance.'). And then the cow arrives - on leading her out to her paddock, he feels "the way I did the first time I ever took a girl to the theater - embarrassed but elated". As is probably to be expected for a regular column, some rise above others. One is particularly beautiful - a story about taking Joel back to the freshwater lake where White used to fish as a child with his own father: But when I got back there, with my boy, and we settled into a camp near a farmhouse and into the kind of summertime I had known, I could tell that it was going to be pretty much the same as it had been before - I knew it, lying in bed the first morning, smelling the bedroom, and hearing the boy sneak quietly out and go off along the shore in a boat. I began to sustain the illusion that he was I, and therefore, by simple transposition, that I was my father. This feeling persisted, kept cropping up all the time we were there. ... I looked at the boy, who was silently watching his fly, and it was my hands that held his rod, my eyes watching. I felt dizzy and didn't know which rod I was at the end of. ...When the others went swimming my son said he was going in too. He pulled his dripping trunks from the line where they had hung all through the shower, and wrung them out. Languidly, and with no thought of going in, I watched him, his hard little body skinny and bare, saw him wince slightly as he pulled up round his vitals the small, soggy, icy garment. As he buckled the swollen belt suddenly my groin felt the chill of death. The anthology cover the early years of the war, and America's entry after Pearl Harbour. There is a quiet, polite, but insistent voice to the essays, one that argues that isolationism is not the right strategy, that a league of democracies is required to defeat the threats of Hitler. This voice becomes louder as the years pass. In the week America enters the war, he writes To hold America in one's thoughts is like holding a love letter in one's hand - it has so special a meaning. Since I started writing this column snow has begun falling again; I sit in my room watching the re-enactment of this stagy old phenomenon outside the window. For this picture, for this privilege, this cameo of New England with snow falling, I would give everything. Yet all the time I know this very loyalty, this respect for one's native scene - I know that such emotions have had a big place in the world's wars. Who is there big enough to love the whole planet? We must find such people for the next society. *** Although internationalism often seems hopelessly distant or impractical, there is one rather encouraging sign in the sky. We have, lately, at least one large new group of people to whom the planet does come first. I mean scientists. Science, however undiscriminating it has seemed in the bestowal of its gifts, has no disturbing club affiliations. It eschews nationality. It is preoccupied with the atom, not the atoll. It's hard to read that last quote without a cold shiver - nor is it easy to read the passages about the Negroes, with their dark-throated singing and chattersome ways. But overall, White's rural idylls, with their philosophical undercurrents, stand the test of time. One of the chief delights of the collection, of course, for a reader who knew White first through Charlotte's Web, is when he makes mentions that seem to prefigure the book (still nearly a decade away). White's flock of sheep and his amusement in their lamb's behaviour, his descriptions of his sheds, his geese and his rats and his runty piglet - all can't help but feel like little winks dropped in for the knowing reader.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Eric Mueller

    E. B. White is a master essayist and this collection did a great job at reminding me that. His Collected Essays is one of my favorite books of all time and this one offers more essays, shorter essays, and moves across time rather than subjected. Most essays take place during the 1930s and 1940s, and it's really interesting to see his takes on life back then. From living on a farm and Maine (not one making living in Maine seem more appealing) to his thoughts about US involvement prior and during E. B. White is a master essayist and this collection did a great job at reminding me that. His Collected Essays is one of my favorite books of all time and this one offers more essays, shorter essays, and moves across time rather than subjected. Most essays take place during the 1930s and 1940s, and it's really interesting to see his takes on life back then. From living on a farm and Maine (not one making living in Maine seem more appealing) to his thoughts about US involvement prior and during WW2, White tells his own story in addition to an American tale. Minimally problematic, he comes out as anti-racism, anti-Jim Crow, anti-facism, against hyper=nationalism, and plenty more. The ease in his voice mixed with his matter of factneess is always comforting to read or hear.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    In the first part of the book there is a sentence or so in each essay that is jarringly dated and callous--such as when he complains about the cost of grain because Germany is invading France. On the other hand, these passages reveal the isolationism and blase attitude so prevalent in the U.S. at the time. Other than the historical context issues, most of these essays were a delight.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Frank

    review forthcoming

  20. 4 out of 5

    Pam S

    E.B. White’s collection of essays continues to be remarkably relevant today, a very enjoyable read. This book was an old edition, with Forward written by the author.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Charlotte

    EB White is observant, wise, and funny, yet unpretentious.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Melody Riggs

    I’ve really come to enjoy an essay or two a day from White. He really was ahead of his time in many instances- including his thoughts about race. I also love reading the antics of his dachshund, Fred, who makes an appearance in several essays in this collection.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Larry Putt

    Another excellent book by E.B. White. The book deals, for the most part, with White's daily adventures on his farm in Maine. I love listening to the voice of White as he describes the birth of lambs, coon hunting, the misadventures of his dogs, etc. One truly feels that White has invited you into his home and his life. A collection of essays, White's writing is warm and homespun, while demanding some rumination by the reader, at least this reader, at the conclusion of each essay. Another excellent book by E.B. White. The book deals, for the most part, with White's daily adventures on his farm in Maine. I love listening to the voice of White as he describes the birth of lambs, coon hunting, the misadventures of his dogs, etc. One truly feels that White has invited you into his home and his life. A collection of essays, White's writing is warm and homespun, while demanding some rumination by the reader, at least this reader, at the conclusion of each essay.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    Read this book of essays as part of my reading through the serendipitous secondhand reading room I had access to in Africa during 2008. Loved this book. It's essays by EB White, who left NYC to go live on a farm up in Maine. He writes about the world, about farm life, about what his neighbors do, about his observations and opinions. This book has one of my favorite pieces of writing ever, something White wrote about his dog. It reminded me strongly of a writer friend of mine, in its observationa Read this book of essays as part of my reading through the serendipitous secondhand reading room I had access to in Africa during 2008. Loved this book. It's essays by EB White, who left NYC to go live on a farm up in Maine. He writes about the world, about farm life, about what his neighbors do, about his observations and opinions. This book has one of my favorite pieces of writing ever, something White wrote about his dog. It reminded me strongly of a writer friend of mine, in its observational and cranky temperament. I gave this as a gift to someone when I got back, and probably will do so again. from the book, possibly the best paragraph in American English ever: Noticed this morning how gray Fred is becoming, our elderly dachshund. His trunk and legs are still red but his muzzle, after dozens of major operations for the removal of porcupine quills, is now a sort of strawberry roan, with many white hairs, the result of worry. Next to myself he is the greatest worrier and schemer on the premises and always has too many things on his mind. He not only handles all his own matters but he has a follow-up system by which he checks on all of mine to see that everything is taken care of. His interest in every phase of farming remains undiminished, as does mine, but his passion for details is a kind of obsession and seems to me unhealthy. He wants to be present in a managerial capacity at every event, no matter how trifling or routine; it makes no difference whether I am dipping a sheep or simply taking a bath myself. He is a fire buff whose blaze is anything at all. In damp weather his arthritis makes stair-climbing a tortuous and painful accomplishment, yet he groans his way down cellar with me to pack eggs and to investigate for the thousandth time the changeless crypt where the egg crates live. Here he awaits the fall of an egg to the floor and the sensual delight of licking it up—which he does with lips drawn slightly back as though in distaste at the strange consistency of the white. His hopes run always to accidents and misfortunes: the broken egg, the spilt milk, the wounded goose, the fallen lamb, the fallen cake. He also has an insane passion for a kicked football and a Roman candle, either of which can throw him into a running fit from which he emerges exhausted and frothing at the mouth. He can block a kick, or he can drop back and receive one full on the nose and run it back ten or twelve yards. His activities and his character constitute an almost uninterrupted annoyance to me, yet he is such an engaging old fool that I am quite attached to him, in a half-regretful way. Life without him would be heaven, but I am afraid it is not what I want.

  25. 4 out of 5

    JennLynn

    One of the few books I tried to read as slowly as possible (only a chapter or two at a time a few times a week) because I wanted it to last as long as it possibly could. This is probably the best essay collection I've ever read and should be an absolute must-read for any aspiring author. Virtually every page has subtly brilliant turns of phrase I only wish I could emulate. Even if you have no desire to write, the glimpse into everyday life in the 30's and 40's is fascinating. My only wish is tha One of the few books I tried to read as slowly as possible (only a chapter or two at a time a few times a week) because I wanted it to last as long as it possibly could. This is probably the best essay collection I've ever read and should be an absolute must-read for any aspiring author. Virtually every page has subtly brilliant turns of phrase I only wish I could emulate. Even if you have no desire to write, the glimpse into everyday life in the 30's and 40's is fascinating. My only wish is that the collection had been twice as long … or more!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Ed Cottingham

    This collections contains "Sabbath Morn," my favorite of the many White pieces that I have read. I have never seen religious skepticism so gently, humanely, wittily, and artfully expressed. I might even say that it is nostalgic toward a certain style of religious service as it was commonly broadcast over the radio from many churches on Sunday mornings of times mostly gone-by. As is typical of White, it is nostalgic about a lot of things. This collections contains "Sabbath Morn," my favorite of the many White pieces that I have read. I have never seen religious skepticism so gently, humanely, wittily, and artfully expressed. I might even say that it is nostalgic toward a certain style of religious service as it was commonly broadcast over the radio from many churches on Sunday mornings of times mostly gone-by. As is typical of White, it is nostalgic about a lot of things.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Only read EB White if you are prepared to ruin yourself for other writers. Maybe a bit of an exaggeration, but wow could this fellow tell a story. So well written, funny, moving. I marked about 50 different places in the book to reread which tells me that I need to actually purchase a copy. Simply wonderful.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Williams.amymichelle

    E.B. White romanticized raising chickens in a way that I know is not true. Chickens are dumb, smelly animals who are loud and eat each other. But damn if I don't want to move to a farm and raise some chickens. Lovely lovely lovely. E.B. White romanticized raising chickens in a way that I know is not true. Chickens are dumb, smelly animals who are loud and eat each other. But damn if I don't want to move to a farm and raise some chickens. Lovely lovely lovely.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Alexander Shkoruta

    In my humble opinion, it seemed super graphomaniac and pretentious. Probably shouldn't judge, but I hadn't been able to finish it: first several (6?10?) chapters seemed off, and then randomly-picked others didn't change my opinion. Not my thing I guess. In my humble opinion, it seemed super graphomaniac and pretentious. Probably shouldn't judge, but I hadn't been able to finish it: first several (6?10?) chapters seemed off, and then randomly-picked others didn't change my opinion. Not my thing I guess.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Kevin

    An amazing anthology of essays that show how simple, yet hard, life on a 1940’s New England farm could be. Peppered with opinion regarding the advent of WWII and insights into American life, EB White turns descriptions of life on the farm into a collection of folksy of Americana.

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