Part memoir, part travelogue, The Enjoy Agenda takes readers from Rick Bailey’s one-stoplight town in Michigan farm country to Stratford, England, to the French Concession in Shanghai, the Adriatic coast of Italy, and to a small village in the Republic of San Marino. With his self-deprecating style, Bailey recalls the traumas of picture day in elementary school and lugging a guitar to the Cotswalds and back. He reflects on food safety in China, relives a dental emergency in Venice, and embarks on a quest for il formaggio del perdono (the cheese of forgiveness) in the hills above the Adriatic.
Bailey, whose voice is a combination of Dave Barry and Rick Steves with just a soupçon of Montaigne, writes with humor and wit about how these experiences reflect the issues and conflicts of contemporary American life: environmental change, life in digital times, and the vicissitudes of arriving at ripe old age. Throughout The Enjoy Agenda Bailey asks, “Where am I and how did I get here?” a question less about geography than the difficulties and gifts of becoming a husband and ultimately a partner changed and improved by a very smart woman and challenged and delighted by a gradual but seismic culture shift.
About the Author
Rick Bailey is a retired English instructor who taught writing for thirty-eight years at Henry Ford Community College in Michigan. He is the author or editor of several books on writing, including The Creative Writer’s Craft, and is the author of American English, Italian Chocolate: Small Subjects of Great Importance (Nebraska, 2017).
“Rick Bailey re-creates for us what Virginia Woolf calls moments of being, those bright bursts of beauty, loss, communion, and bewilderment that constitute a life. I defy you to read one of these deliciously addictive essays without gulping down the entire book.”—Eileen Pollack, author of The Only Woman in the Room
“Rick Bailey’s essays overflow with warmth, humor, truth. . . . The Enjoy Agenda offers keen observations, nuggets of wisdom, stories of the heart.”—Christine Rhein, poet and the author of Wild Flight
“It’s not often I read a book of essays and fall in love with the writer and the characters in his life. But that’s what happened reading Richard Bailey’s The Enjoy Agenda. . . . It is a lovely antidote to the despair and chaos in today’s world.”—David James, author of My Torn Dance Card
“Full of food and music, longing, and curiosity, The Enjoy Agenda is a collection of brief illuminations where each essay arrives like a good friend with a story to tell. With generosity and sincerity, Rick Bailey is a writer who wants to share the world with you, and his book is one of discoveries, small marvels, and celebrations.”—Matthew Olzmann, author of Contradictions in Design
“Knowledgeable, funny, and utterly curious, Bailey comes off as everyone’s favorite uncle, who returns from far-flung reaches to share wise tales and good wine. And though this book teems with quirky asides, curious tangents, and plenty of self-deprecating humor, what comes through strongest is a decades-long romance that is worthy of study and emulation.”—Joey Franklin, author of My Wife Wants You to Know I’m Happily Married
“Clearing out the parental home, finding the best gelato in an Italian village, using photos to purchase (sans language) a screwdriver in Shanghai: Rick Bailey’s reminiscences are enhanced by research, literary references, and the simple pleasure he takes in the world around us. This is engaging, thoughtful work.”—Terry Blackhawk, Kresge Arts in Detroit Literary Fellow
“Hooray for miscellany, for odds and ends gathered between covers, designed to charm and surprise! Rick Bailey launches right into his quirky thoughts on myriad subjects (music, art, food, travel, health, language, etc.) and doesn’t let up for the duration of this wonderfully original, unpredictable book. The Enjoy Agenda subtly and insistently suggests that life is a gift to be enjoyed, a goal the book itself fulfills for readers.”—Patrick Madden, author of Quotidiana and Sublime Physick