Book of personal essays transports readers to a happier time
Rick Bailey is having a conversation with his wife.
And striving to appreciate Beaujolais.
And sightseeing with Italian friends.
And washing gravestones alongside a widow.
And we readers are grateful that he is. Because in each of Bailey’s 42 tightly-written, sure-to-make-you-smile personal essays, he extracts a gem of insight that leaves us nodding our heads in recognition or tasting a truth we hadn’t considered before.
In Bailey’s third collection of essays, Get Thee to a Bakery, published by the University of Nebraska Press, he regales readers with tales from an ordinary enough life, told as if over the soup course at a white table-clothed restaurant or on an evening stroll through the neighborhood.
While never reaching the laugh-out-loud crescendo of David Sedaris, Bailey is a keen observer who masterfully weaves threads of the everyday into a broader tapestry of perspective.
He ponders aging, death, nutmeg, marriage, technology, ear worms, dieting, Jesus shopping, dog poop, squirrel feeding habits, meatloaf, tooth replacement and how we evolved to smile, among other pressing topics.
In nearly every offering, there’s a line worth committing to memory.
“It makes me want to taste the wine, but only after I’ve whiffed some beef blood and licked a sweaty saddle.”
“He calls me ‘man.’ I call him ‘hey.’”
“But then, could we go any slower? I estimate, between the twelve of us, we’re traveling at five hundred photos a minute.”
Bailey is retired from teaching English at Henry Ford College in Dearborn, Michigan. These days, he lives part-time in San Marino, near Italy, and part-time in Michigan.
In these months of political unrest, pandemic, economic disaster — and the doom scrolling that has inevitably followed, Bailey’s light steps through life will transport readers to another, happier time.
That’s something we can all look forward to.