In clothing, Bermuda shorts are a kind of casual formal wear – and in this collection of essays, Bermuda Shorts is the perfect metaphor for James J. Patterson’s fundamentally serious but playful literary style. Patterson grew up with a foot planted in each of two worlds, one in Washington DC, and one in rural Ontario, where his Canadian mother insisted the family spend their summers. His father, one of the wizards of twentieth-century newspaper publishing, introduced him to the big city’s wheels of money and power, which he would later navigate as an entrepreneur. But those Canadian summers introduced him to a different world – one where a cedar strip boat was better than any car, and where the ghosts of those who’d previously inhabited the family’s island house floated out over the water of Lovesick Lake. It is those two worlds that blend in this collection of reflections about what it means to be an artist, an iconoclast, a patriot, and a man.
On Bermuda Shorts
Lovers of the personal essay should be rejoicing in the streets at the publication of Bermuda Shorts. Whether he’s writing on politics, culture, sports, or the arts, James J. Patterson’s work is full of an endangered resource – the magnificent, apparently inexhaustible fund of sheer energy that springs from every page. — Rick Walter, former LA Times writer
Happily, early on, James J. Patterson discovered that the bumpy road through life was lined with books. Clearly, somewhere along the way he pulled out a volume of Montaigne. The young 20th century rebel must have found much to admire in the French Renaissance thinker’s essays, and especially the meaning of the word essayer, to try – both as a philosophy of living and as a style for writing. The essays in Patterson’s delightful volume, Bermuda Shorts, highlight the ways in which life and literature intertwine. And, like the 16th century master, Patterson makes this literary form his own invention. —Joanna Biggar, author of That Paris Year and co-creator of Wanderland Writers
Some of the essays are the literary equivalent of the Buddhist meditation on the skull, which is meant to use the sense of impending death as an impetus to love the juicy, impermanent life at hand. How fortunate for the reader that life, for this author is music, hard work when you love the work, sports, a wise baseball-loving mother, Jesus (but not the organized church), good scotch, the spine of a beautiful book (but not the swine of a professor who likes to hear himself talk about said book), a cedar-strip boat named Charley, political debate, and the stars over Clovelly. A delicious mix indeed!. —Dr. Katherine Williams
It is like sitting down with a very intelligent friend and having the kind of conversation you’d always wanted to have. —Myra Sklarew