Epiphany of a Middle-Aged Pilgrim

Peter Wortsman

In the short personal essays that comprise Epiphany of a Middle-Aged Pilgrim, Essays in lieu of a Memoir, author Peter Wortsman, best known for his original prose fiction and stage plays, and his translations from the German, follows in the footsteps of French essayist Michel de Montaigne, taking stock of life in middle age. His perspectives, including childhood fear, chronic insomnia, ironing a shirt, getting a haircut, having a skin cancer removed, travel at home and abroad, a consciousness of getting older, et al, and concluding with a reflection of life in lockdown during the Covid-19 pandemic, make for a rich mosaic of memories meant to spur readers to seek out their own epiphanies.

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“Peter Wortsman’s “essays”—which range from short aphoristic pieces, to personal confessions, to travelogues, to delicious anecdotes about persons and places—are consistently witty, delightful, and often, as in the case of “New Orleans Reveries,” superb social and cultural commentary. From “Café Culture in Vienna” to an hilarious piece on the Williamstown Theatre Festival where the author meets one of his idols, Tennessee Williams, Wortsman is a superb guide to contemporary pleasures and follies, whether in the U.S. or around the globe. And his eye for detail is extraordinary. You will enjoy every page of this unique collection!” Marjorie Perloff, author of Infrathin: An Experiment in Micropoetics

“Our middle-aged and memorable Marco Polo, Peter Wortsman, keeps a drove of drowsy emperors awake with these miraculous micro attempts, dreams caught in a bottle, bringing a menagerie of “ ‘ems” back alive. In Epiphany of a Middle-Aged Pilgrim one steps right up—here are memories and the maps of memory’s mechanisms, the mean means of remembering. These essays are Wortsman’s Invisible Cities made starkly visible, and, before our eyes, the mundane metropolises of aging become strange once more, a finely defined defamiliarizations wakes us, like that, from our decadent napping.” Michael Martone, author of The Complete Writing of Art Smith, The Bird Boy of Fort Wayne, edited by Michael Martone and The Moon Over Wapakoneta

Peter Wortsman is the author of works of fiction (A Modern Way to Die, Cold Earth Wanders, Footprints in Wet Cement, and Stimme und Atem/Out of Breath, Out of Mind); stage plays produced in the U.S. and Europe (Burning Words, The Tattooed Man Tells All); a travel-memoir, Ghost Dance in Berlin, for which he won an Independent Publishers Book Award; a book of physicians’ profiles (The Caring Heirs of Doctor Samuel Bard); and an anthology, Tales of the German Imagination, which he compiled, translated and edited). He has also translated numerous texts from the German, including works by Peter Altenberg, Heinrich Heine, Franz Kafka, Heinrich von Kleist, Robert Musil and Mynona). Wortsman was a Holtzbrinck Fellow at the American Academy in Berlin in 2010.