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All the Strange Hours: The Excavation of a Life
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All the Strange Hours: The Excavation of a Life

4.37 of 5 stars 4.37  ·  rating details  ·  233 ratings  ·  23 reviews
In All the Strange Hours, Eiseley turns his considerable powers of reflection and discovery on his own life to weave a compelling story, related with the modesty, grace, and keen eye for a telling anecdote that distinguish his work. His story begins with his childhood experiences as a sickly afterthought, weighed down by the loveless union of his parents. From there he tra ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published February 1st 1985 by Scribner (first published 1975)
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Reading Loren Eiseley, you are a visitor in a world shaped by experiences that seldom have found a voice such as his. An isolated Nebraska childhood in the early decades of the 20th century, and an even more isolating experience riding the rails as a drifter during the Great Depression -- these are not auspicious beginnings for a respected writer or a scholar. His family was poor, and his deaf, deranged mother haunted his life. From early on, he was a loner, with a poet's sensibility, who learne ...more
Matthew Maline
It took a bit of jumping around to get this book, but the payoff was worth it. Eiseley's way of describing quirks in himself and the world around him is uplifting where it could have been cynical, yet mellow instead of romantic. For example, after recounting the improbably complex lifecycle of the Sphexe wasp, he spins it as something more than meaningless but less than supernatural:

I am an evolutionist. I believe my great backyard Sphexes have evolved like other creatures. But watching them in
Eiseley in this autobiography writes," I who profess no religion find the whole of my life a religious pilgrimage." It at first seems an odd statement as Eiseley is not in any usual sense a conventional "religious" person. He is an anthropologist and writes evocatively and well of his youth , a difficult one and of his many excavations among the remains and ruins of people and civilizations which have receded into the past. But at the same time, he is never far from asking questions about the "m ...more
I heard of Eiseley through a recent book I read. And I wasn't disappointed. This was atmospheric, imaginative, and profound. I felt that I leaned in and listened closely to what he had to tell me. It took me everywhere and nowhere at the same time. It should me something about how to live as well as how to write about how we live.
This is largely an autobiography of Eiseley and it reveals much about him as a person but also about his life-long love of both science and writing. Great work.
Ben Loory
Nov 13, 2008 Ben Loory rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who like biographies and/or the natural sciences
Recommended to Ben by: some random guy on the interweb
this was good, but i gave it up halfway through. it's an autobiography by a famous anthropologist / naturalist / poet / writer. the writing was really good and the guy was smart and interesting. but really, i just don't care about real life. i get so antsy reading anecdotes and people's thoughts about shit. what's the point of all this? i keep thinking. what are we doing here in this book? this book could be eleven pages long or 800... any story in it could be taken out or added to or replaced w ...more
Appropriately finished Eiseley's autobiography holed up in a tent in the Poconos during a long rainstorm. In his growing up in a neurotic household in Nebraska and the years of his youth spent hopping trains and slumming out the Depression, you can see the development of Eiseley's career as a scientific outsider. I loved the later chapter on the giant wasp, Sphecius speciosus; how the intricate, vicious and somewhat bizarre nature of the creature's prey and feeding habits illuminates the mysteri ...more
Hauntingly beautiful prose. A most atypical autobiography full of stories that both pull at you and resonate alienation and loneliness. Definitely worth picking up.

Among the few score books I bought for myself after reading a library copy.

“ … the brain has become a kind of unseen artist's loft. There are pictures that hang askew, pictures with outlines barely chalked in, pictures torn, pictures the artist has striven unsuccessfully to erase, pictures that only emerge and glow in a certain light ... They can be pulled about on easels, examined within the mind itself ... The writer ... cannot obliterate them. He can only drag them about, ma
In my opinion, Loren Eiseley can't go wrong when he writes about avian pathos. Unfortunately, there's no avian pathos in All the Strange Hours. There's feline pathos, mouse pathos, familial pathos, and... a gambling metaphor that I still don't understand. Eiseley comes across rather awkward when he talks about himself, self-conscious and edgy. The sadness that peeks around his other works here takes a gloomy center stage. Reading it, I wondered if he couldn't give himself permission to soar (oh, ...more
David Kessler
Eiseley had many adventures include the obvious but his life was just a little different. He launched his professional career at an older age after traveling the country by rail and foot during the Great Depression.
Once he began studying anthropology, he was hooked. He is a born writer and damn good at it but for a short while he acted in a provost and college administrator capacity. But back to his writing: he is a marvelous observer of man and also has the keenest of the thinkers in the scient
Hindsight is 20/20, but Eiseley goes quite a bit further than merely looking back as he reflects on his life. As the title suggests, he is uncovering thoughts from the past as if they were bones preserved over time, and he examines each one carefully--I liked to think of each chapter as one bone: each a treasure by itself, but must be put in the right place with the others if the complete shape is to be comprehended.
I don't know if I've ever read a writer of such unabashed intensity and melancholy. Eiseley traces the jagged, sharp edges of a natural world that is indifferent, violent, beautiful, and marked by occasional grace. Eiseley sees himself as cut from the same stone. Fragmented memories and buried anxieties, instinct, are of a piece with the shards of bone and artifact that Eiseley brushes off with his pen.
Venessa E-man
I feel like I just don't get this book. Eiseley's erudite writing just goes way over my head. And it seems like he's trying to compete with real modern writers - trying his hand at the whole stream of conscious. He should have stuck to science and had a ghost writer for the book.
An autobiography from a well-known anthropologist and scientist, he provides an interesting perspective on life as shown through his childhood and his studies/teaching. Check it out if you are looking for something different
Fascinated with the book because I remember hobos coming to my house asking for food. Every chapter was about a different part of his life. The book was well written, authentic.
The man's own words about his amazing life.
Eiseley is a god to me and it's tons of cool to read more about his childhood,mentors and the beginnings of a bone collecter.
Biological anthropology, hoboism, childhood, aging, writing. Loren Eiseley's words are perfect, and his life's story is eventful and well related. So good.
A scientist who is a gifted writer, creating scenes from his life that will stay with you.
See review for "The Night Country."
Nov 17, 2008 Solea is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
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Loren Corey Eiseley (September 3, 1907 – July 9, 1977) was a highly respected anthropologist, science writer, ecologist, and poet. He published books of essays, biography, and general science in the 1950s through the 1970s.

Eiseley is best known for the poetic essay style, called the "concealed essay". He used this to explain complex scientific ideas, such as human evolution, to the general public.
More about Loren Eiseley...
The Immense Journey: An Imaginative Naturalist Explores the Mysteries of Man and Nature The Star Thrower The Night Country The Unexpected Universe The Firmament of Time

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