University of Nebraska Press





Patrick Madden

Date of this Version

Spring 2010


© 2010 by the Board of Regents of the University of Nebraska,674205.aspx


Reflecting on Montaigne, Virginia Woolf remarked, “The most common actions—a walk, a talk, solitude in one’s own orchard—can be enhanced and lit up by the association of the mind.” In Quotidiana, Patrick Madden illuminates these common actions and seemingly commonplace moments, making connections that revise and reconfigure the overlooked and underappreciated. Focusing on the search—for meaning, for approximate knowledge, for hints and intimations of the larger world—Madden ponders the finite by counting fruit at the local supermarket or estimating the number of grains of sand on the earth or celebrating linguistic and grammatical miscalculations. He muses on the origins of human language, the curative properties of laughter, and the joys and woes of fatherhood. Sparked by considerations of selling garlic, washing grapes, changing a diaper, or chipping a tooth, his essays are an antidote to the harried hullabaloo of talk-show and tabloid culture—and a reminder that we are surrounded by wonders that whisper to the curious and attentive. Ingenuous and erudite, with a beguiling wit, Madden weaves an intricate tapestry of ordinary life in its extraordinary patterns. His book is a poetic and engaging exploration of the unexpectedly wide scope of our everyday existence.