The poet Donald Hall reflects in this journal-memoir on the meaning of work and "a life's work." He describes his daily life and work over a period of three months, interspersed with stories about his family, particularly his New Hampshire grandparents on whose farm Hall now lives.

Halfway through the book, Hall discovers that his colon cancer has metastasized to the liver. He undergoes surgery to remove part of his liver and subsequently recovers from the immediate effects of surgery. At the end of the book, he is ready to begin chemotherapy.


This book begins as a paean to work, to work-as-meaning and work-as-identity. Hall begins with the sentence, "I've never worked a day in my life." That is, he has never worked in the negative, alienating, Calvinistic way that ?work? is considered in our culture. He has done the things he loves to do with his life, writing poems, essays, stories, etc., his "life's work." He reflects on his life's work in contrast to, and continuity with, the work of his parents and grandparents.

Life intervenes in this journal when Hall discovers that he has metastatic cancer. The second part of the book consists of his reflections as he recovers from surgery, gets back to work with his customary "absorbedness," and sees his work even more clearly in the context of a life story near ending.



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