Having recently lost her husband, and in an effort to discover the value of daydreaming and leisure, the author sets out on a journey that will take her to the homes of people who famously wasted time daydreaming, but were better for it.
Hampl wonders about what we miss when we no longer allow ourselves to simply get lost in thought. Her sharp and unconventional book — a swirl of memoir, travelogue and biography of some of history's champion day-dreamers — is its very own Exhibit A, making the case for the profound value of letting the mind wander ... Unlike stories, these small moments or 'vignettes,' as Hampl says, lead us 'down the rabbit hole of thought.' That sounds self-indulgent, but Hampl is such an incisive writer, a reader comes to trust that those rabbit holes are worth tumbling down into ... Like most of the rest of this odd and haunting book, it's impossible to do justice to the cumulative power of Hampl's dream-weaver writing style by just quoting a few lines. You have to go on the whole voyage with her, take the detours, be willing to let yourself get becalmed in thought. The payoff — because, of course, we're all still looking for a payoff — is that by wasting some of your time with Hampl, you'll understand more of what makes life worth living.
For all the vital, sensuous, enrapturing descriptions that engender a powerful sense of presence, this is also a contemplation of absence and solitude as Hampl tenderly contends with the sudden death of her husband. An exquisite anatomy of mind and an incandescent reflection on nature, being, and rapture.
...a wise and beautiful ode to the imagination ... Delightful anecdotes abound ... But as with any memoir, the main character is Hampl herself. As always, she is on a journey to understand herself, and in doing so, to help us learn how to discover what is most precious and enduring in our own lives. It is an honor to encounter her anew, and to have her gently remind us that sometimes it’s wise to put down our to-do lists and to give ourselves over to musing out the window, to remembering that 'the imagination is the crucible of freedom.' ”