The essay braids together several narratives and reaches several climaxes. At one point, Baldwin realizes that racial hatred has nearly led him to kill and to be killed; at another, he realizes that hatred killed his father. The first idea was acceptance, the acceptance, totally without rancor, of life as it is, and men as they are: In light of this idea, it goes without saying that injustice is a commonplace. I saw that this had been for my ancestors and now would be for me an awful thing to live with and that the bitterness which had helped to kill my father could also kill me.
Because it is often occasioned by an event, the essay is sometimes dismissed as journalistic and less-than-literary. His letter displays much learning as in its allusions not only to the Bible, but also to Reinhold Niebuhr, St. Augustine, St. With Altamont? The fall of Saigon? Her essay speaks personally to the large and public issues of race, gender and peace; she connects her own neuroses to those of the age.
Finding herself and her times without a narrative or script, she chooses to improvise.
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Her work is distinguished by its self-deprecation and candor. On Being a Cripple opens with an anecdote: While using the bathroom at her office at the University of Arizona, Mairs was thinking again about writing an essay about her MS. Saturday afternoon, the building deserted, I was free to laugh aloud as I wriggled back to my feet. Unlike Bourne, Mairs embraces the first person, but she faces the same paternalism and self-pity he had found himself up against fortunately, her daughter Anne helps her resist them :.
One evening several years ago, Anne was reading at the dining-room table while I cooked dinner. As I opened a can of tomatoes, the can slipped in my left hand and juice spattered me and the counter with bloody spots. I felt better. In , Mairs was one of seven plaintiffs who successfully sued the Greyhound Lines bus company over its failure to comply with the equal access provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
On November 1, , I walked across the University of Iowa campus, where I was a graduate student, to meet my wife at a coffee shop. I had just left my office at the Iowa Memorial Union, where I worked part-time as writer for the dean of students. My friend Jo Ann Beard was at home. She shared a job at the physics department with her friend Mary Allen—one working one day, the other the next. Mary called Jo Ann to tell her there had been a disturbance at the office.
They were evacuating the building. A disturbed physics graduate student named Gang Lu, angry that he had come in second in a contest for best dissertation on campus, had just shot and killed three professors and a graduate student named Linhua Shan, who, like him, was from China and whose dissertation had won the contest. A literature professor invites us to sit in on some classes. In Lee's Him , , etc.
A collection of essays set in the deserts of the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico. Nevada-born novelist Bergon Jesse's Ghost , , etc. Kirkus Interview. Do you work in the book industry? Which of the following best describes you? Literary Agent. Publicist or Marketing Professional. Film Industry Professional. Other Book Industry Professional.see
100 Must-Read Essay Collections
Email address:. Please provide an email address. More filters. Sort order. Mar 03, Manny rated it really liked it Shelves: blame-jordan-if-you-like , well-i-think-its-funny , the-goodreads-experience. Jordan talked me into it - a familiar story : Just ordered from The Book Depository Like, if you don't, what exactly are doing here? This book is a collection of 17 outstanding essays, nearly all of which, I'm ashamed to say, I hadn't previously read. It was irresistible to pretend I was reading them here on GR, and then try to imagine how I would have reacted to them.
In many cases, no great feat of imagination was required. The first two would simply have knocked me flat, Bettleheim by the depth of his controlled anger and Stone by his extraordinary and unconventional scholarship. There's an important word in the Apologia , he claims, which has been consistently mistranslated out of deference to Socrates; when you substitute the correct translation, the whole sense changes.
With Leo Marx, my reaction would have been a little different.
I know Huckleberry Finn well, which I can't say of the other two books, and my own review is exactly in this direction, commenting on the irony of the claim that Twain is a racist. Why didn't I do more work? If I had, I might have written this little gem. The same goes for Pico Iyer's In Praise of the Humble Comma Iyer adores semi-colons too, but expresses it so much more elegantly than I did , Carl Sagan's The Fine Art of Baloney Detection I would love to be able to explain the merits of scientific thought equally convincingly , and Ellen Ullmann's Space Is Numeric , a paean to the joys of late-night software implementation.
Damn and double-damn! I've hacked code late at night to beat a deadline more times than I can count. I could have written this, but I didn't! Why ever not? Some of them were telling stories about things I'd never experienced myself, but which would instantly have taken a place in my memory.
After reading George Orwell's piece, I almost felt I'd attended a hanging in colonial-era Burma myself, Edward Abbey does a wonderful job of debunking the cowboy myth, and Martin Luther King's Letter from a Birmingham Jail , I discovered, thoroughly merits its fame; it's both inspiring and extremely well-written. And finally, as usual on Goodreads, there are the people writing about the joy of writing. It's always a risky strategy, and Eudora Welty's Writing and Analyzing a Story was one of the very few contributions that I wasn't sure I would have voted for.
The theme of conceiving of one's writing as a lover has been used before, but she does it remarkably well. I have to share this quotation with you: I have not given this long-standing, faithful lover, this passionate devotee, my full attention. In some respects, I still fear what might happen to the rest of my life if I were to abandon myself to this paramour.
In many ways, I sense that the depth of my feelings borders on sickness; yet I am painfully aware that this lover is as necessary as the blood that feeds my heart. Me too, Alma, me too. I wish I could send you a friend request.
View all 3 comments. Oct 10, Laura rated it really liked it Shelves: non-fiction.
The Eloquent Essay: An Anthology of Classic Creative Nonfiction by John Loughery
I like when things unexpected align. On a recent writing retreat to Santa Fe we were provided for discussion a four essays. One by Joan Didion. I became quite interested again in creative non-fiction and essay writing. The Amy Tan essay, Mother Tongue, is also very good and, interestingly, I like when things unexpected align. The Amy Tan essay, Mother Tongue, is also very good and, interestingly, a good deal of our Santa Fe curriculum was aimed at voice. This collection opens with his other well-known essay The Hanging, filled with precisely chosen details that prick at the reader like rough wool on bare skin making us squirm.
Jan 21, Lisa rated it liked it. A real mix. I wouldn't have selected all of these, but enjoyed many, especially Auden's piece on detective stories, King's Birmingham jail letter, and Asia's essay on recognizing herself as a writer.
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