At the Center of All Beauty
Solitude and the Creative Life
by Fenton Johnson
Pub Date 10 Mar 2020
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A meditation on solitude as a font of creativity and spirituality.
Known for his lyrical prose and clear insight, Fenton Johnson explores what it means to be not “single”—meaningless outside of coupledom—but “solitary,” able to be alone, inclined to mine the treasures of inner life. Americans tend to celebrate “fortress marriage,” turning an equal right into an omnivorous expectation, marginalizing solitaries as odd, even potentially threatening. Johnson taps into an older tradition embodied by Trappist monks near the Kentucky home where he grew up, and by artists and writers including Paul Cézanne, Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, Henry David Thoreau, Henry James, Eudora Welty, Zora Neale Hurston, Rod McKuen, Nina Simone, and Bill Cunningham. Johnson includes his parents, who in workshop or garden found places to be alone; married people, too, can be solitaries in spirit.
A hybrid of memoir, inspiration, social criticism, and celebration of the lives of great solitary artists, At the Center of All Beauty will resonate with anyone needing a break from the clamor of “society.”
About the Author:
Fenton Johnson lives in San Francisco and Tucson, but is often found hiking his native Kentucky. An award-winning author of fiction and nonfiction, he teaches at the University of Arizona and Spalding University, contributes to Harper's magazine, and has been featured on Fresh Air.