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Get Me Through the Next Five Minutes: Odes to Being Alive (Hardcover)

Get Me Through the Next Five Minutes: Odes to Being Alive By James Parker Cover Image
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From the vertiginously talented James Parker, a collection of uproarious odes that show how to find gratitude in unexpected places.

Our politics are broken; our world is melting; the next catastrophe looms. Enter James Parker, who for years now has been writing odes of appreciation on subjects from the seemingly minor (“Ode to Naps”) to the unexpected (“Ode to Giving People Money”) to the seemingly minor, unexpected, and hyperspecific (“Ode to Running in Movies”). Finally collecting Parker’s beloved and much-lauded odes in one place, this volume demonstrates the profound power of the form. Each ode is an exercise in gratitude. Each celebrates the permanent susceptibility of everyday humdrum life to dazzling saturations of divine light: the squirrel in the street, the crying baby, the misplaced cup of tea. Parker’s odes are songs of praise, but with a decent amount of complaining in there, too: a human ratio of moans. Varied in length but unified in tone, mostly in prose, sometimes toppling into verse, the odes range across music, movies, literature, psychology, and beyond, all through the lens of Parker’s personal history. Gathered together, they form an accidental how-to guide to honoring your own experience—and to finding your own odes.

About the Author

James Parker is a staff writer for The Atlantic. Since 2011, he has run the Black Seed Writers Group—a weekly writing workshop for homeless, transitional, and recently housed writers—and edited The Pilgrim, a literary magazine from the homeless community of downtown Boston. He lives in Boston, Massachusetts.

Praise For…

Parker offers some loose advice for living (give money to panhandlers whole-heartedly, because doing so means participating in ‘the same divine economy that big-banged you into being’), but is at his best when poring over life’s strange resonances…pays vivid homage to the beauty of the mundane.
— Publishers Weekly (starred review)

James Parker’s book deserves an ode all its own—one that, like the odes it brings together, is apt, quirky, form-breaking, tradition-furthering, and celebratory all at once.
— Paul Elie, author of Reinventing Bach

Note to readers! This book has two parts. The first is the book itself, the one you read, as James Parker’s prose grips on your receptors: here is a seriocomic essayist of the first order, enthusiastic and nervous, spiritual and salty, excited by the very idea of a wide frame of reference, totally on. The second part happens after you’ve finished, as life seems like a series of further odes waiting to happen, and more inviting because of it.

— Ben Ratliff, author of Every Song Ever and Coltrane: The Story of a Sound

Parker’s dazzlingly erudite mind has found ways to appreciate everything from Proust to dog waste, and somehow make it funny. It’s a book as edu-taining as it is inspirational, and his mastery of language ripples easy like Sunday morning. Parker is, in short, brilliant.
— Cintra Wilson, author of Fear and Clothing: Unbuckling American Style

James Parker loves the English language like a farmer loves the soil, but then he’s a lover of the world by nature. Here he counts his blessings, from Pablo Neruda to his dog’s balls, and each of his entries is a small, beautifully shaped rapture. This book should be kept at bedside for all those rude awakenings and sodden sleeps.
— Lucy Sante, author of Low Life: Lures and Snares of Old New York
Product Details
ISBN: 9781324091639
ISBN-10: 1324091630
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
Publication Date: June 4th, 2024
Pages: 240
Language: English