Let Me Finish by Roger Angell
From his opening sentence, “One spring Saturday when I was seven going on eight, my mother brought me on an automobile outing with her young lover and future husband E.B. White” (Angell 5), Roger Angell failed to fully capture my attention in his autobiographical piece entitled Let Me Finish. The author tells the story of his complex life in a scattered, not-quite-chronological order, with the overarching theme of memory. This style makes the storyline difficult to follow and fairly uninteresting. Though Angell has lived, “a life sheltered by privilege and engrossing work, and shot through with good luck” (298), his autobiography as a whole is less than entertaining. That aside, there were a few passages that effectively held my attention, but never for an extended period of time.
Angell describes his lifetime experiences with erudite and finessed diction, be it the relationship he shares with his father over baseball, or touring Europe with his wife Evelyn. This artful diction is the product of his long-time post as a contributor, and eventually a fiction editor at The New York Times. The author shares with us his experiences from that line of work along with his childhood.
The early life of Roger Angell proved far more interesting to me than his adult life. He eloquently describes his obsession with baseball, present from a young age. This obsession was matched by his fascination with snakes: he could easily rattle off multiple baseball lineups just as quickly as he could name entire families of serpents. Those two obsessions were a huge part of Angell’s life with his father and sister in New York City, where the young Roger lived on weekdays. Equally as interesting as his city life was Angell’s more rural life. He spent weekends and holidays either touring the nation with family and friends or living with his mother and stepfather at their home in coastal Maine. At his second home Roger developed a knack for sailing and spent time with his younger brother.
Angell’s life after he left home was far less intriguing to me. While he has an amazing array of experiences to share: graduating from Harvard, writing for and editing The New York Times, serving in the military during World War II as an air force corporal, it all comes across dully, not successfully holding my attention for very long at all.
Roger Angell reflects on his memories of his childhood in prohibition-era New York in an elegant, yet verbose style, his worldly experiences contribute to the work, but I was left feeling bored and unsatisfied.