Washington Post's Reviews > The Trip to Echo Spring

The Trip to Echo Spring by Olivia Laing
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did not like it

“The Trip to Echo Spring” uncovers very little new about authors we know too much about. Instead of Hemingway or Fitzgerald, she might have inspected the lives of Kingsley Amis or Dorothy Parker. This book is riddled with the first-person singular, more often than not in ways totally irrelevant to the business at hand. Thus: “Months ago, back in England, when I was just beginning to think down into the subject of alcohol, I became certain that whatever journey I was making would begin in a hotel room on East 54th Street, ten minutes’ walk from Broadway.” And: “I don’t believe in ghosts, but I am interested in absences, and the fact that the room had ceased to exist pleased me.” And: “The AA meeting was on the Upper West Side at 6 p.m. I slept a while at the hotel and then cut across Central Park, eating a hot dog on the way.”

Et cetera. That tells you nothing at all about writers and alcohol. So it cannot surprise you to learn later that, walking along the beach in Key West, Laing is pleased to be told by a passing stranger, and hastens to pass it along to us: “I hope your day is as beautiful as you are.” That is pretty much the poisonous icing on the inedible cake of this dreadful book, an exercise in narcissism and irrelevance from first page to last.

Jonathan Yardley reviewed the book for us: http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinion...
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
January 12, 2014 – Finished Reading
January 14, 2014 – Shelved

Comments Showing 1-18 of 18 (18 new)

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message 1: by Miss M (last edited Jan 14, 2014 09:18AM) (new)

Miss M I've been reading Yardley since my teens. The man is simply awesome.


Washington Post Dear Miss M, how nice of you! We've passed your comment along to him.


message 3: by Miss M (last edited Feb 06, 2014 02:55PM) (new)

Miss M Yipes - should have been more eloquent!

Please do pass along my sincere respect and gratitude.


message 4: by B.B. (new)

B.B. Oak This book has been getting so much publicity! Why? Guess we can never get enough about Hemingway or Fitzgerald. Actually, they were great publicists themselves. But great writers too, so that's okay. It wasn't all just hype.


Washington Post Dear B.B.:

It's probably the subject matter. Who isn't interested in Hemingway? But as Jonathan Yardley pointed out, that's old hat and other writers would have presented more compelling stories.


message 6: by Tim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tim Why does WAPO excel at negativity? I assume your bizarre attack on Mrs. Laine is founded in jealousy of her writing abilities. Be gone, I'm sure there's a Justin Beiber story to be scooped somewhere.


Vanessa Bennett Very good book


message 8: by Sir Lancelot (new)

Sir Lancelot never read it


message 9: by Sir Lancelot (new)

Sir Lancelot does anyone here like the song White Walls.


message 10: by Sir Lancelot (new)

Sir Lancelot best song in the world


laura E Wroblewski Free books


message 12: by jodi byers (new) - added it

jodi byers Q


message 13: by azareiah Stewart (new)

azareiah Stewart how did you get that as your screen saver????????!!!!!!!!! !!!


Bernard O'Leary "Riddled with first-person singular". This review is basically a fancy version of those guys complaining that the Ghostbusters are women now. There's a total unwillingness to engage with the text for what it is, and instead it's slated for not being a biography of some people which you yourselves admitted are already well-biographied. The little undertone of disgust in this that a *girl* is talking over the Very Important Men is pretty blatant. Delete your account, Washington Post.


Cheryl Zaleski If I wanted the Washington Post's review of a book, I would have purchased the newspaper; let the nonprofessionals have their say on Goodreads.


message 16: by John (new) - rated it 4 stars

John As much as I like Jonathan Yardley and enjoyed his book Second Reading, his review of this book is off-base and surprisingly harsh. It is a personal journey as much as a meditation on the particular writers, and I learned a lot about the writers. Although I realize reviews are a personal thing and Yardley is entitled to a wrong opinion as much as anyone else is, I did not find the book to be anything like his review.


message 17: by Anne (new) - rated it 5 stars

Anne Harvey What a petty, peevish, completely-missing-the-point review. Ms Laing has more talent in her little finger than that tedious, tiresome drudge of a 'reviewer'.


message 18: by John (last edited Jul 22, 2018 03:15PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

John I took another look at this book recently. Frankly, the sections on John Cheever and Raymond Carver are worth the price of admission alone.

The parts about the two writers in Iowa is as vivid and good as it gets.


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