I had to re-read each chapter two or three times to get a full sense of what Goffman was driving at. His ability to get at the inner workings of human interactions is, if not unique, darned rare. This book will repay the effort it takes to read it many times over. Often he'll take up a subject that other writers try to grapple with but don't quite nail, and he'll land a bull's eye so clean and square your head spins. The examples may be dated by the 1950s world Goffman was describing, but the fine details still ring true, as in "Similarly, at middle class American funerals, a hearse driver, decorously dressed in black and tactfully located at the outskirts of the cemetary during the service, may be allowed to smoke, but he is likely to shock and anger the bereaved if he happens to flick his cigarette stub into a bush, letting it describe an elegant arc, instead of circumspectly dropping it at his feet" It's that fine grained detail that Goffman picks up on, that's what's missing in so many page a minute recipe books of cheapo wisdom. And he writes better, too.