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A Skeptic's Guide to Writers' Houses

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3.47 of 5 stars 3.47  ·  rating details  ·  43 ratings  ·  19 reviews
Why is it that we visit writers' houses? Although admittedly skeptical about the stories these buildings tell us about their former inhabitants, Anne Trubek carries us along as she falls at least a little bit in love with each stop on her itinerary and finds in each some truth about literature, history, and contemporary America.
ebook, 174 pages
Published July 11th 2011 by University of Pennsylvania Press (first published October 4th 2010)
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Djrmel
Do not underestimate the importance of the word "skeptic" in the title of this book. Ms. Trubek makes it very clear from the beginning of this book that she doesn't understand why a dead author's fans enjoy visiting their homes that have been turned into shrines. I would suggest, however, that the word "guide" in the title be replaced with "journey", because that is what happens here. Do not be tempted to skip around the chapters to see what she has to say about Hemmingway's Idaho home before re ...more
Sue
First let me say that I came by this book through the Goodreads First Reads program and I'm glad I did.

Trubek takes herself (and us) on a journey around the United States to visit the "homes" of several American authors. Her initial feelings about this whole project are obvious in her words and the underlying cynicism about the meaning of these homes -- what they meant in the lives of the authors they represent and to the tourists who visit. But along the way the tenor of her narrative changes a
...more
John
I got this one on impulse off my library's New Books shelf, but was hooked by the end of the first chapter (Walt Whitman). The entries are quite different in tone, some of which is accounted for by Ms. Trubek's own personal life at the time - for instance, if she seems a bit grouchy about Hannibal, MO, she was dealing with a sick kid at the time. A kudo to her for letting the reader know.

The book succeeds in giving continuity to the central question: is there some "essence" of the writer to be c
...more
Barbara
Thank you Anne, and thank you Goodreads, for sending this book to me as a First Reads prize!!

This is one of the most fun and interesting books I have ever read. I love biographies (especially on writers) and in this book I got to read many mini-biographies on many writers, including Walt Whitman, Louisa May Alcott, Ernest Hemingway, Jack London, and a handful of others.

Anne Trubek takes us on a tour to house museums of American writers, and she does so in such a smart, funny, and very thoughtfu
...more
Matt
This is a weird little book, and in the same way that Trubek's book explores the economics of literary tradition, this book tells us something about University Presses. Like Writers Homes, I think UPs are in kind of a weird spot, existing between the remit to publish books for small audiences (or maybe a small circle of writers) and the occasional opportunity to make a little money. That this book caught my attention means that it is one of the latter. But it's still a book from the UP, written ...more
Kristi
This is my second timing reading this book, and I must admit I enjoyed it more this time than the first time I read it. While I was intrigued by the skeptical stance, during my first read I was turned off by the author's jaded and condescending personae. Although I disagree with Trubek's conclusions, after reading this book a second time, I can better appreciate the questions she raises about meaning, authenticity, and historical memory. However, I think it is fallacious to conclude that writers ...more
Dan
I once visited Anne Trubek's house. It wasn't the house she lives in now. And I didn't get past the front porch, because I was just delivering Chinese food. That house comes up a few times in this book, not always in a happy light.

There are a lot of philosophical/critical tangles that come up in Skeptic's Guide that make it difficult to classify. Trubek writes from a personal perspective and in some ways it's a memoir. She writes as an English professor, so it is not short on literary criticism
...more
Ellen
I have some vacation planning to do...
Joy Lanzendorfer
This book made me question why someone would want to spend time visiting writer's houses when she dislikes them so much. It seems like a pointless exercise, especially since I never quite understood Trubek's argument against the houses in the first place. They remind her of death and the houses don't make any money? You can't find the writers or their work in the house the same way you can in their books, and therefore the houses are useless? Frankly, Trubek’s "skepticism" seems wrapped in snobb ...more
Jill
First, a big thank you to the Goodreads FirstReads program and to author Anne Trubek, who graciously sent me an autographed copy of this most enchanting book.

I am, perhaps, an ideal reader for A Skeptic’s Guide. I’m a passionate reader with an advanced degree in English Literature and have actually visited many of the homes she focuses on in her book, including Jack London’s, Ernest Hemingway’s. and, of course, what she calls “The Concord Pilgrimage” – Edith Wharton’s, Herman Melville’s, and Lou
...more
Craig Amason
Perhaps this book should have been titled The Pessimist's Guide to Writers' Houses. As a director of a writer's house (Andalusia, Home of Flannery O'Connor), it would be easy to have a knee-jerk reaction to this book and spew obscenities at Trubek, but I will resist. Honestly, she makes some very good, although painful, observations about literary landmarks and the failed attempts to preserve and maintain them. She has a tendency to make it a little too personal at times, perhaps so the reader c ...more
Amy Paget
A truly dreadful book. Amazed it was accepted for publication.
christina
A more academic Sarah Vowell investigates two of my favorite subjects - writers and historic houses - in this short but shrewd book. I thoroughly enjoyed the author's unvarnished and slightly cranky opinions and the observations and connections she makes. It's like taking a field trip with your favorite literature professor. I hope that she goes on to write bigger books.
Rob Rausch
I had to take frequent breaks from this book. The title is certainly appropriate, but her constant cynicism and jadedness is over the top and wears thin quickly.
Cheryl
Feb 07, 2011 Cheryl marked it as interesting-possibilities  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Cheryl by: First Reads
What an interesting idea and I liked the title! Should be an interesting and enjoyable book.
Jamie
Why do we restore and visit author's homes? Here is one person's experience.
Brynne
A little too skeptic in my opinion.
Leslie Chayer
Leslie Chayer marked it as to-read
Apr 07, 2015
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Anne Trubek is the author of A Skeptic's Guide To Writers' Houses and co-editor of Rust Belt Chic: The Cleveland Anthology. She has written for The New York Times, The Atlantic, Wired and numerous other publications.
More about Anne Trubek...
Rust Belt Chic: The Cleveland Anthology Dispatches From The Rust Belt: The Best of Belt Magazine The History and Future of Handwriting Food, Culture, And Society: A Longman Topics Reader (Longman Topics Series) Rust Belt Chic: The Cleveland Anthology

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