True Lies and Short Takes: Assorted Life Writing Essays

True Lies and Short Takes: Assorted Life Writing Essays

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Author: Eugene Stelzig (King's 1966)

Publisher: Hamilton Books [an imprint of Rowman & Littlefield]

This gathering of autobiographical essays focuses on different experiences and periods of the author’s life and hybrid identity: a childhood spent in Austria, teenage years in an American school and then a lycèe in France, coming to the U.S. as a young adult and attending college, studying in England for two years, and then settling permanently in the U.S. into an academic career. The word “essay” in the title is meant in its original or French sense, as an attempt or trial. The twenty-four items in this gathering are a kaleidoscopic collection of such attempts at different modes of self-reflexivity. They are arranged not so much in the chronological order of their composition as by way of loosely assembled thematic clusters. “True lies” suggests that by transforming lived experiences into language--by way of memory, imagination, and reflection--and often years and decades later, we inevitably alter them as we write them down. But we also re-experience them, and in so doing shift them into another register. These recollections cover a wide range of experiences: Stelzig’s early years, his absurd encounter with a barber in Salzburg, his mysterious Buddha experience in Hong Kong, his travel misadventure in Spain, his career as an aspiring poet, his commitment to teaching Shakespeare’s plays, his love of dogs and of tennis, and the death of a nineteen-year old Austrian au pair girl. True Lies is divided into three parts. “Austrian Roots” addresses Stelzig’s early years, including his relationship with his Austrian parents. “Adult Branchings” focuses on his American adult life and identity. The final section, “Falling Leaves,” is for the most part a set of reflections on the later stages of life and the sense of mortality and of time running out—the challenge of “being in time” and the question of “what remains.”

Publication date: 
Wednesday 12 October 2022

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