Charles D’Ambrosio’s essay collection Orphans spawned something of a cult following.Loitering gathers those eleven original essays with new and previously uncollected work, so that a broader audience might discover one of our great living essayists. A New York Times Notable Book and Winner of the Washington State Book Prize
... slow rambles, long loiterings that fray the edges of certainty. For D'Ambrosio, doubt is a posture, an ideology, and a choice as much as an actual state. Whenever he gets too polished, he roughs it up a bit ... This careful dance of high and low, of timing, circumspection, and room for nuance — and the disarming honesty — make it clear that D'Ambrosio knows how to write a good essay, but what makes the collection great is his vast, almost painfully acute sense of compassion. The strength of his empathetic imagination, which he extends to the world around him — and, by extension (it feels like) you, is staggering ... Maybe it's odd to call a book kind, but kindness seems to be Loitering's animating principle ... it delivers that most primal pleasure of reading — the feeling of being understood, of not being alone.
For anyone who’s ever had a flash of doubt or a realization of ignorance and embraced it, Charles D’Ambrosio is your writer ... The pieces in Loitering range from D’Ambrosio’s career beginnings, in the 1970s, to the present, from his Seattle home to Brooklyn Heights, but like many great writers, D’Ambrosio seems to create outside the boundaries of time and location ... In every essay, D’Ambrosio keenly displays one vital skill a nonfiction writer can’t fake: observation. He moves so fluidly between his own thoughts and the details of his surroundings that only when dissecting his writing does it become apparent how carefully he has constructed every innocent descriptor ... He transforms everyday experiences, uncertainty and all, into perfect stories.
D’Ambrosio has...published two fine collections of short stories, but it is his essays, appearing in literary magazines and previously in an obscure small-press edition, that have been garnering a cult reputation. Now that they are gathered in such a generous collection, we can see he is one of the strongest, smartest and most literate essayists practicing today. This, one would hope, is his moment ... The presentation of himself as a damaged outsider, barely holding on, ups the dramatic ante, though it does seem at odds with the accomplished, balanced, commanding prose D’Ambrosio appears able to muster with every sentence — not to mention his prestigious awards and teaching stints. But he certainly has cause to feel damaged, as we learn from his family history ... Isolation is D’Ambrosio’s big subject ... He can be very witty: A sense of humor comes and goes in these essays, but loneliness and forlorn sorrow are never far away ... These are highly polished, finished, exemplary performances.