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In The City at Three PM, award-winning fiction writer Peter LaSalle offers 11 startlingly original personal essays dealing with his longtime quest for world travel of the literary sort. The range of offbeat experiences is wide—from driving recklessly across the county when young to seek out Saul Bellow in Chicago, to settling in for long evenings at a pub in Dublin with Chr In The City at Three PM, award-winning fiction writer Peter LaSalle offers 11 startlingly original personal essays dealing with his longtime quest for world travel of the literary sort. The range of offbeat experiences is wide—from driving recklessly across the county when young to seek out Saul Bellow in Chicago, to settling in for long evenings at a pub in Dublin with Christy Brown, the celebrated Irish author afflicted with cerebral palsy who typed with his toes and was the subject of the movie My Left Foot. In Buenos Aires LaSalle senses metaphysical transport while investigating Borges's work; in Cameroon he attends the wonderful opening of a small bookstore; in Hollywood he finds himself caught in a crazy mob scene while researching the work of 1930s master novelist and screenwriter Nathanael West; in Tunisia he follows in the footsteps of Flaubert at the ruins of ancient Carthage. And those are just some of the adventures. Having first appeared in distinguished publications here and abroad, including The Best American Travel Writing, these are beautifully crafted pieces—heartfelt, honest, observant—that conjure up those fine moments when travel does intersect with the important role of literature in our lives.


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In The City at Three PM, award-winning fiction writer Peter LaSalle offers 11 startlingly original personal essays dealing with his longtime quest for world travel of the literary sort. The range of offbeat experiences is wide—from driving recklessly across the county when young to seek out Saul Bellow in Chicago, to settling in for long evenings at a pub in Dublin with Chr In The City at Three PM, award-winning fiction writer Peter LaSalle offers 11 startlingly original personal essays dealing with his longtime quest for world travel of the literary sort. The range of offbeat experiences is wide—from driving recklessly across the county when young to seek out Saul Bellow in Chicago, to settling in for long evenings at a pub in Dublin with Christy Brown, the celebrated Irish author afflicted with cerebral palsy who typed with his toes and was the subject of the movie My Left Foot. In Buenos Aires LaSalle senses metaphysical transport while investigating Borges's work; in Cameroon he attends the wonderful opening of a small bookstore; in Hollywood he finds himself caught in a crazy mob scene while researching the work of 1930s master novelist and screenwriter Nathanael West; in Tunisia he follows in the footsteps of Flaubert at the ruins of ancient Carthage. And those are just some of the adventures. Having first appeared in distinguished publications here and abroad, including The Best American Travel Writing, these are beautifully crafted pieces—heartfelt, honest, observant—that conjure up those fine moments when travel does intersect with the important role of literature in our lives.

52 review for The City at Three p.m.: Writing, Reading, and Traveling

  1. 5 out of 5

    Marcia

    I won this book from Goodreads. It is really a series of essays about the author's travels to places that writers he likes have lived. LaSalle sees the places with his own eyes and recalls the life and works of various writers, such as Borges in Buenos Aires and Flaubert in Tunisia. LaSalle immerses himself in the different environments to understand better "why" and "how" the authors wrote what they did. He believes that the specific places where necessary to produce the works of literature. La I won this book from Goodreads. It is really a series of essays about the author's travels to places that writers he likes have lived. LaSalle sees the places with his own eyes and recalls the life and works of various writers, such as Borges in Buenos Aires and Flaubert in Tunisia. LaSalle immerses himself in the different environments to understand better "why" and "how" the authors wrote what they did. He believes that the specific places where necessary to produce the works of literature. LaSalle travels alone, and he mentions that he too is susceptible to the loneliness that occurs during the time. I liked the book a lot. It really is geared for an upper level or graduate level English class to understand motivation. Still, LaSalle's own observations & conclusions are interesting even if the reader has not read the authors mentioned.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Steve

    A collection of pieces pretty much published between between 2004-2012 (except an early piece from 1971, and his newspaper career, on Christy Brown, where an added postscript thankfully admits it is a fluff piece). LaSalle travels to cities and visits locations there connected to his favorite writers (Flaubert, West, Lowery, Borges....). He is a rather cheap, cranky, opinionated curmudgeon. Which is, well, good as well as bad Part of the charm is the cheap, worn out hotels he stays in - but he c A collection of pieces pretty much published between between 2004-2012 (except an early piece from 1971, and his newspaper career, on Christy Brown, where an added postscript thankfully admits it is a fluff piece). LaSalle travels to cities and visits locations there connected to his favorite writers (Flaubert, West, Lowery, Borges....). He is a rather cheap, cranky, opinionated curmudgeon. Which is, well, good as well as bad Part of the charm is the cheap, worn out hotels he stays in - but he can't ante up for a drink or two at Musso and Frank? The good part is that this is a book that makes you want to go back and (re)read some of the authors he covers. But for me it was primarily an author he did not have to really travel to connect with, E TX's William Goyen and his "House of Breath". It is disappointing that he is so exclusively "old school" - the most recent authors he mentions is Richard Ford and Amy Tan (starting their careers in the mid to late '80's) - and he doesn't like either of them (He dismisses them as "overrated" with no explanation, and that, I guess, is supposed to be good enough for us. Luckily he usually does explain why he likes the authors covered in this collection). There have been other, quality, younger authors since 1990. He has a schtick he often uses, speaking directly to the Reader, letting them know that what has just happened to him will be of importance later when he has his Important Insight Into Art and Life. It gets a little old, popping up in at least half the pieces here. A Regents Prof at the U of TX-Austin in Creative Writing, he rails about other department members (unnamed) as "careerists", the movement in English Depts towards Sociology, Political Science, and This-Year's-Literary-Movement and its jargon. All valid points, but this is coming from a man who has made a 30+ year career as a university instructor in Creative Writing. Which is pretty damned "careerist", especially if you have been good/lucky enough to land at that campus and have a Regents position. But - I am betting he is a DAMNED good instructor! Also, he complains about English as Soc and Poli Sci, yet never talks about his own interest in English/Art as Biography and actual, physical History. OK, and I am not sure what his issue is with rare manuscripts (which, whenever he uses one, he admits is useful in so many ways), and the Huntington Library in particular. His line about it also having a "supposedly renown botanical gardens" borders on petty. They are renown - roses and cacti in particular - and the staff at the gardens are just as important to Art (which is so important to him) as he is as a writer. And since we are on LA and N. West, a BMW is no big deal there, and no one is going to look "embarrassed" for owning one there. Owning a BMW is hardly an indication of outrageous wealth in LA - OR in Austin. But really, I did very much enjoy reading this collection, was glad it was published, and will more than likely read another couple of his titles (the book of stories on hockey - he is a native of RI - sounds the most interesting to me). And, as above, the GOOD thing about this collection is that it brings you back to reading some quality authors who deserve a revisit if you have not touched their books in some time. And as for LaSalle himself, I am glad to have found him - a comfortable, and insightful, writer well worth a read. It would be interesting to know the names of some of his writing students who went on to literary fame - I am sure there are a number. From reading this one collection I am sure he taught them well, introduced them to some great writers, broke down some of the best moments by those writers ("What makes this paragraph work, what makes it GREAT?") and has been influential in their writing careers.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Cherie

    An author travels to locales of other authors, investigating their haunts in an attempt to better understand the authors - and himself.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Lucile Barker

    29, The city at three p.m.: reading, writing and traveling by Peter LaSalle Perhaps if I was a travelling type of person, I might have enjoyed this collection of eleven essays more. Or maybe I like my geography lessons smuggled in fiction, and my fiction without that much background. LaSalle seems to be rather self-congratulatory about who he knows and where he has been, sort of like your affluent friend who always has vacation pictures on her phone. I found this to be near boring and I do a lot 29, The city at three p.m.: reading, writing and traveling by Peter LaSalle Perhaps if I was a travelling type of person, I might have enjoyed this collection of eleven essays more. Or maybe I like my geography lessons smuggled in fiction, and my fiction without that much background. LaSalle seems to be rather self-congratulatory about who he knows and where he has been, sort of like your affluent friend who always has vacation pictures on her phone. I found this to be near boring and I do a lot of non-fiction. Go yourself, don’t bother with LaSalle.

  5. 4 out of 5

    University of Chicago Magazine

    Peter LaSalle, AM'72 Author From our pages (Winter/16): "Fiction writer Peter LaSalle has walked around the UChicago campus with Saul Bellow, EX’39; followed Gustave Flaubert’s footsteps through Carthage; and sat in Jorge Luis Borges’s preferred spot in a Buenos Aires library. In 11 personal essays, LaSalle shares stories from his bookish travels and meditates on the life of a writer and the power of literature."

  6. 4 out of 5

    Thekelburrows

    It is ironic the author actively seems to dislike Richard Ford, when he himself is nearly the perfect embodiment of Ford's most famous creation Frank Bascombe. In a battle of lovably self-serving windbags Bascombe vs Lasalle would span across at least seven decades.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Tuck

    i've read lasalle's short stories and i like his use of specific-place detail. here he records in autobiographical essays his travels around the world visiting "books". it is fun to be with him in these travels and thoughts. it's dzanc!

  8. 5 out of 5

    John Benson

    This is a book of essays that combine the author's interest in certain authors, travels to where they wrote and thoughts on his own writing. I found the long essays a bit too long and detailed but I really enjoyed some of the shorter essays in the book.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Anne, Unfinished Woman

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Library: 2015, DZANC Books Setting: America, Dublin, Buenos Aires, Cameroon, Hollywood, Tunisia... Authors reviewed/interviewed: Saul Bellow, Christy Brown, Borges, Nathanael West, Flaubert, Poe, Faulkner Read: 5/03/2016, Did not finish, want to purchase

  10. 5 out of 5

    Tyler Maddox

  11. 5 out of 5

    Melissa Wuske

  12. 4 out of 5

    Albert413

  13. 4 out of 5

    Anna Schubert

  14. 5 out of 5

    Kris

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jess

  16. 5 out of 5

    Sasha

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jeanie Chung

  18. 4 out of 5

    Lanette

  19. 4 out of 5

    Sattva

  20. 4 out of 5

    Sevelyn

  21. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

  22. 5 out of 5

    David M.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Caroline

  24. 5 out of 5

    Naomi V

    review in ShelfAwareness

  25. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

  26. 5 out of 5

    David

  27. 4 out of 5

    Penny

  28. 5 out of 5

    Diana

  29. 5 out of 5

    Susan

  30. 5 out of 5

    Frederick Rotzien

  31. 5 out of 5

    Ann Ellis

  32. 4 out of 5

    M.L.

  33. 5 out of 5

    Kathy

  34. 4 out of 5

    Cynthia Schwarzer

  35. 4 out of 5

    Micielle

  36. 4 out of 5

    Todd Rumsey

  37. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

  38. 5 out of 5

    LLL Reads

  39. 4 out of 5

    Cory

  40. 5 out of 5

    Katrina Mcghee

  41. 4 out of 5

    Jane

  42. 4 out of 5

    Kim Myers

  43. 5 out of 5

    Louise Carlson Stowell

  44. 5 out of 5

    Ladywilde

  45. 4 out of 5

    Eli

  46. 4 out of 5

    Roxanne

  47. 4 out of 5

    ed Lucas

  48. 5 out of 5

    Tammy Hornbeck

  49. 5 out of 5

    Amanda Reynolds-Gregg

  50. 4 out of 5

    Kathy Heare Watts

  51. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

  52. 4 out of 5

    Claire

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