Discoveries: Christian McEwen

By Susan Salter ReynoldsJanuary 21, 2012

Discoveries: Christian McEwen

World Enough & Time by Christian McEwen

HERE IS YOUR CHANCE: a new year, a new opportunity to slow down, stop your crazy multitasking, pay attention to the vivid world. McEwen, who teaches poetry at various schools to people of all ages around the world, has lovingly created a book that is both a gentle reminder and an urgent plea: walk, pause, look, read, write, sleep, and dream. She offers tranquility (a "vibrant emptiness"); a cure for "hurry sickness." Embedded in World Enough & Time is a bibliography of slowness - great walkers like Coleridge and Wordsworth; poets and philosophers through the ages who have tried to help us recover the wonder and amazement of childhood; storytellers who were masters not only of their craft but also of the art of looking. McEwen tells the story of her childhood in rural Scotland, of the long happy hours spent dozing, reading, and daydreaming. We have been sold a bill of goods, as my grandmother used to say. Someone wants to keep us busy. In our desire for approval, we sign away the best moments of our lives: the potential for revelation, the sense of ourselves in the natural world, the ability, in many cases, to be truly creative and (dare one say it) happy and alive. McEwen gives us exercises (not overbearing) and reasons to believe that our best selves deserve to be dug out from under our crazy lives.


LARB Contributor

Susan Salter Reynolds is a book critic and writer who lives in Los Angeles and Vermont. She has three children: Sam, Ellie, and Mia.


Did you know LARB is a reader-supported nonprofit?

LARB publishes daily without a paywall as part of our mission to make rigorous, incisive, and engaging writing on every aspect of literature, culture, and the arts freely accessible to the public. Help us continue this work with your tax-deductible donation today!