Fifteen eye-opening personal essays from a pioneering voice in creative nonfiction and composition studies
In this career-spanning intellectual auto-biography, inspiring educator and writer Lynn Z. Bloom brings to fore the trials and triumphs she has experienced in coming of age as a scholar, teacher, wife, mother, grandmother, and especially writer. A pioneering voice in the field of composition studies (before the discipline even had that name) and a chronic nonconformist, she is a lifelong advocate of opportunity, authenticity, and expression. Taking a stance in favor of bold creativity in living, teaching, and writing, Bloom warns against the snares and sneers of the seven deadly virtues—duty, rationality, conformity, efficiency, order, economy, and punctuality—that so often subvert the mission of education and the potential of expressive communication.
Ranging from the comic to the confessional, Bloom's memoir interweaves the pleasures and problems of a forbidden marriage and complex family, the joys of cooking and travel, the struggles to become a professor during an era that did not welcome women faculty, and the risks and rewards of heeding the siren call of creative nonfiction. These fifteen essays probe the assumptions and values—ethical, intellectual, social, aesthetic, and inevitably political—of what Bloom has found to be the most complicated, challenging, satisfying aspects of her loves and labors.
Emblematic of Bloom's methods for teaching teachers, her swiftly flowing prose is spiced with bold opinions, leavened with playful wit, and rich with revealing details as she surveys the defining moments in her personal life and in an academic field in which she has been a central figure. Failure, success, perplexity, resilience, and wonderment all rise to the surface in a series of accounts that confide much about what is at stake for a writer, teacher, or woman striving to grow beyond conventional expectations. Her message is an open invitation to share in the exhilarating liberation of living and writing on the edge, far from the nay-saying of the seven deadly virtues and their acolytes, and where limitless creative possibilities abound.
Lynn Z. Bloom is a Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor and the Aetna Chair of Writing at the University of Connecticut in Storrs. She is an author or editor of numerous books, including Doctor Spock: Biography of a Conservative Radical, Composition Studies as a Creative Art, and Writers without Borders. Her essay "(Im)Patient," which appears in this collection, was named a Notable Essay of 2005 in Best American Essays.
"A fascinating book by a dedicated master teacher who practices what she preaches, by putting herself on the line and her life vividly on the page, this sophisticated, self-reflexive take on autobiographical writing should clarify and illuminate many of the dark corners of creative nonfiction."—Phillip Lopate
"Lynn Bloom is a rule breaker. Crossing boundaries fluidly and without apology, Bloom weaves together the scholarly and the personal, the literary and the lyrical into essays that are provocative, funny, wise, and irreverent. An academic, an artist, a teacher, a wife and mother, a traveler and cook, Bloom scoops us up and carries us with her deeply intelligent, imaginative, searching, and energetic prose. This collection serves as a call to scholars to humanize their texts, to teachers to personalize their engagement with students, and to writers and readers to dare to allow love, joy, and wisdom to infuse their prose."—Meredith Hall
"This collection of essays is marked with Bloom's unmistakable and lively voice, which is known widely throughout the field of composition studies. Grounded in that professional field, but insisting on not leaving out or leaving behind the roles of wife, mother, daughter, and colleague that surround and support the role of professor of writing, of being both teacher and writer, these essays are a record of a teaching and writing life that has challenged convention and inspired countless others to keep their many selves in focus and in play in their writing, teaching, and living."—Rebecca Faery
"The Seven Deadly Virtues and Other Lively Essays offers a delightful combination of personal and professional history, family stories and academic farce, traumatic episodes and moments of joy. Readers will enjoy true creative nonfiction of the kind Bloom not only preaches but skillfully practices."—Linda H. Peterson
"Bloom likes to tell stories. In this collection, she shares some good ones. And they have to do with herself, for she has taken seriously the philosopher's caution that the unexamined life is not worth living. She is not interested in the 'whopper' but in grasping the truth about her roots, about her time, about herself. In this collection transformed to memoir, Bloom succeeds in making some 'deadly virtues' appealingly alive!"—Joseph M. Flora