Letters of thanks, letters from banks,
Letters of joy from girl and boy,
Receipted bills and invitations
To inspect new stock or to visit relations,
And applications for situations,
And timid lovers' declarations,
And gossip, gossip from all the nations.
—from "Night Mail" by W.H. Auden
Northwestern University English lecturer emeritus Joseph Epstein, having addressed such topics as friendship and snobbery in previous books, has turned his attention to the number one
national global pastime in his latest book, Gossip: The Untrivial Pursuit (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt).
I wouldn't presume that it's all negative. Here's an interesting tidbit from an April 2010 Science magazine post, Gossip is Good, Even in the Lab:
"According to evolutionary anthropologists, from the time of the caveman gossip helped to find the best hunters and mates. The hunt for mates is still true."
Epstein dishes on Gossip on Thursday, December 8, at Barnes & Noble at Old Orchard Center in Skokie.