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All Over the Place: Essays from A to Z is a collection of 26 essays, one for each letter of our alphabet. 

The essays in this collection explore a range of characters, topics, and situations, including predatory traffic police, malevolent dentists, deceptive cooking shows, pushy street performers, abusive literary agents, subversive falafels, a sickening whale watch, Winnie the Pooh, products we love and people we hate, and other fraught and funny facts of life.

These pieces are literary hybrids. They are essays in format, yet often read like stories. They use the essay genre to tell stories and make arguments simultaneously.


In Spanish, the word for plot is "argumento," which acknowledges that fiction is rhetoric, just like an essay. It is to hoped that the reader's enjoyment at reading these short pieces will melt such arbitrary distinctions. 

This is what readers have said about ALL OVER THE PLACE


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful

A Witty, Humble and Endearing Self-Portrait of a Puzzled New Yorker

By Wordsworth on December 13, 2013

Format: Paperback

Writing compelling essays is a lost art of which Eric Jay Sonnenschein has exerted considerable mastery. In their totality the essays of "All over the Place" create an existential portrait of what it means to live as a New Yorker in the early 21st century. I found in the clarity of this writing an honesty which was both disarming and endearing: the author had managed to see himself and his life without illusions. There is a humility in the tone of the writing which seemed to inspire a conviction that the writer possessed uncommonly high integrity. If one considers the "Confessions" of Rousseau, for example, one finds a massive ego pontificating and puffing up a persona created for public consumption as a noble spirit. While I must confess that I do admire the confessions of Rousseau immensely, despite his claims to present a totally honest perspective, Rousseau often seems to be more concerned with self-elevation than shedding light on the human condition. Rousseau proved to be a courageous writer who suffered for the philosophical points of view that he espoused and ultimately was forced to flee to France from Geneva to seek refuge. Consequently, Rousseau's high integrity is thus assured. However, Sonnenschein achieves his high integrity as an essayist by honest self-criticism in which he tests and does not spare himself. Insofar as his human experience is shared, then one is enabled to gain an honest look at one's own foibles and laugh at them to leave us all the better for a new understanding of ourselves and the quotidian lives that we lead. I was particularly taken by the voice of reason in his wife whose perspective the author consistently seeks and whose wisdom he follows to great advantage.Read more ›

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful

"I had the disturbing insight...

By John P. Jones III TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 9, 2013

Format: Paperback

... that those seated in the dark theater were more important than their counterparts under spotlights." Eric Jay Sonnenschein obtained this insight in Italy, in the days of his youth. A particular young lady that he was in the "drooling phase" over had convinced him to accompany her to a play - in Italian, which he did not speak - and they were the only two people who were the audience in an obscure and cavernous theater. The incident resonated with me since I also was once in a theatre, in Avignon, France, watching a play by Chekov performed in a language I only half-understood. Unlike Sonnenschein, I was unaccompanied, by a young lady or no, but I also faced the same dilemma: if I leave, will the play go on?

Like almost all of us, Sonnenschein has been in the "audience" of life, and not in the spotlight thrown on a very few in what passes for our "celebrity culture." And he is more important for it. This book is composed of 26 essays on life, structured - sometimes as he admits, with a stretch- to fit each letter of the alphabet. He immediately "drew me in" with his first essay, entitled "Agents of Despair." Like watching a play in an empty theater, I also had the similar experiences. In "the days of yore" one had to definitely know someone in order to be published. And heavens forbid, you could never approach a publisher directly; no, the aspiring author needed a "good agent," all of whom seemed to be "too busy" unless you were already famous, or a Nobel Prize winner in literature. The author relates a number of amusing anecdotes (amusing if they are not happening to you), with the one I like best involving an agent who let months pass, without any feedback on the submitted manuscript.Read more ›

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful

Quirky, funny, rueful

By Geoff Wisner on December 27, 2013

Format: Paperback

The most important piece of equipment for an essayist is a distinctive voice, and Eric Sonnenschein has a voice you couldn't mistake for anyone else's. Quirky, funny, and rueful, these essays range from flatulence to mortality, with many odd stops in between. And you've got to love someone who begins a piece about a whale watch with "Call me a schlemiel."

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