Short Essays By Famous Authors Who Self

On By In 1

Writing is, as a general rule, hard. Defining yourself as a writer can be even harder. Sure, there are other difficult practices like law and medicine out there, but a person becomes a lawyer or a doctor when he or she passes a series of exams and graduates from a certain school. Writing doesn’t always work that way. There aren’t tests to study for and facts to memorize. Where are we supposed to learn how to write?

From grammar rules to publishing advice to personal narratives, these books on writing reveal in intimate detail the ins and outs of what it means to call yourself a writer. Sometimes harsh, sometimes funny, but always honest, they can be thought of as a kind of syllabus for writing. Whether you’re an aspiring artist working on your first drafts or a seasoned veteran in the publishing world, these are some of the best books on writing with insight and wisdom that can support you at all stages of your writing process.

  • The Forest for the Trees

    An Editor's Advice to Writers

    Betsy Lerner

    AmazonBarnes & NobleIndieboundiBooks

    For both established and prospective authors alike, the publishing house can seem like a jungle. Luckily, Betsy Lerner is here to lead a safari, citing her vast collection of experiences as an editor as her field guide. The Forest for the Trees motivates writers by helping them get over their fear of the unknown. It’s less about taming the wilderness and more about facing the demons of self-doubt and sloth that live in every person’s own mind.

    AmazonBarnes & NobleIndieboundiBooks

     

  • The Elements of Style Illustrated

    Strunk, White, Kalman

    AmazonBarnes & NobleIndieboundiBooks

    William Strunk and E.B. White’s The Elements of Style is so widely known that we’re sure you already have a copy, but of course we had to mention it. The only style guide to ever appear on a bestseller list, this book should be your go-to if your writing is in need of an infusion of clarity. Plus, this particular edition is illustrated by Maira Kalman, adding a visual element of style to the classic.

    AmazonBarnes & NobleIndieboundiBooks

     

  • Story Engineering

    Larry Brooks

    AmazonBarnes & NobleIndieboundiBooks

    Larry Books turns a technical eye to the writing process in Story Engineering. If you don’t properly plan out your story prior to setting pen to paper, he argues, your storytelling won’t be as effective as you’d like it to be. To remedy this, he takes readers through six core elements of storytelling: concept, character, theme, story structure, scene construction, and voice.

    AmazonBarnes & NobleIndieboundiBooks

     

  • Naked, Drunk, and Writing

    Shed Your Inhibitions and Craft a Compelling Memoir or Personal Essay

    Adair Lara

    AmazonBarnes & NobleIndieboundiBooks

    Adair Lara’s Naked, Drunk, and Writing is a must-read for any memoirist or personal essayist. With experience as a teacher, editor, and, of course, writer, Lara’s know-how will help readers through problems like how to face your family after they’ve read your work and how to find an agent who will fight for you. The perfect mix of tough love, comic relief, and passion, Lara’s book is invaluable for anyone who needs a little help telling their story.

    AmazonBarnes & NobleIndieboundiBooks

     

  • How to Write a Damn Good Novel

    James N. Frey

    AmazonBarnes & NobleIndieboundiBooks

    James N. Frey’s overarching guide will be of use to both the novice and the seasoned, published writer. He provides advice for how to overcome writer’s block and fear of the blank page, how to turn a critical eye to your own writing, and more. Frey’s book is one to keep within arm’s reach while writing, to grab during those moments when you need to take a step back from your work and get back to basics.

    AmazonBarnes & NobleIndieboundiBooks

     

  • Bird by Bird

    Some Instructions on Writing and Life

    Anne Lamott

    AmazonBarnes & NobleIndieboundiBooks

    Anne Lamott knows from writing. She’s the author of seven novels (with one on the way) and nine works of nonfiction – many of them bestsellers. In Bird by Bird, her 1994-published book on the craft of writing, Lamott addresses how to get started, accepting the shittiness of a first draft, writing groups, writer’s block, how to know when you’re done and more. Her words, advice, insight are priceless.

    AmazonBarnes & NobleIndieboundiBooks

     

  • Poemcrazy

    Freeing Your Life with Words

    Susan Goldsmith Wooldridge

    AmazonBarnes & NobleIndieboundiBooks

    Though some may be able to simply sit back and pull a poem from thin air, that’s not the case for most. Writing workshop leader Susan G. Wooldridge taps into her own experience writing and helping others write to share this compilation of prompts, ideas, and more. Poemcrazy is a guide that any budding poet will find valuable.

    AmazonBarnes & NobleIndieboundiBooks

     

  • The Writing Life

    Annie Dillard

    AmazonBarnes & NobleIndieboundiBooks

    Annie Dillard, winner of the 1975 Pulitzer Prize for nonfiction for her book Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, published The Writing Life in 1989. In this book, Dillard presents a unique view on what it means to be a writer in a way that is accessible and relatable to both amateur and seasoned writers. It’s no wonder that Maria Popova calls the book “timelessly wonderful.”

    AmazonBarnes & NobleIndieboundiBooks

     

  • The War of Art

    Steven Pressfield

    AmazonBarnes & NobleIndieboundiBooks

    In the creative process, oftentimes it is our own inner self who acts as our worst enemy. When up against self-doubt, the little naysayer in the back of your mind, how does one overcome and move past it? Steven Pressfield, author of The Legend of Bagger Vance and a number of other novels and eight works of nonfiction, addresses this very question in The War of Art.

    AmazonBarnes & NobleIndieboundiBooks

     

  • Walking on Water

    Reflections on Faith and Art

    Madeleine L'Engle; Preface by Sara Zarr

    AmazonBarnes & NobleIndieboundiBooks

    Madeleine L’Engle has mastered the art of weaving faith into fiction. In Walking on Water, the late author explores what it means to be a Christian artist, and touches on the influence of science on her writerly life. This is, truly, a book that will hold appeal for writers and readers alike, as it sheds light upon the mind of one of this last century’s most talented writers.

    AmazonBarnes & NobleIndieboundiBooks

     

  • On Writing

    Charles Bukowski

    AmazonBarnes & NobleIndieboundiBooks

    Charles Bukowski was a legend in his own time, and has left behind a legacy that will live on for as long as the English language does. In On Writing, take a deeper look into this complicated, brilliant writer’s mind through his correspondence with publishers, editors, friends, and other writers. And be prepared, of course, for Bukowski’s oft-hard-to-take honesty.

    AmazonBarnes & NobleIndieboundiBooks

     

  • Story Genius

    How to Use Brain Science to Go Beyond Outlining and Write a Riveting Novel(Before You Waste Three Years Writing 327 Pages That Go Nowhere)

    Lisa Cron

    AmazonBarnes & NobleIndieboundiBooks

    So much of writing is creativity. But let’s not forget about the scientific piece of the puzzle. In her new book, Story Genius, story coach Lisa Cron addresses just that, examining the role that cognitive storytelling strategies can play in writing – and how you can put them to work for yourself.

    AmazonBarnes & NobleIndieboundiBooks

     

  • The Sense of Style

    The Thinking Person's Guide to Writing in the 21st Century

    Steven Pinker

    AmazonBarnes & NobleIndieboundiBooks

    Harvard College Professor of Psychology and two-time Pulizter Prize finalist Steven Pinker applies his background in cognitive science to the practice of writing in The Sense of Style. In a book that differs in approach and method from most others on this list, Pinker takes a critical eye to the common writing practices of the 21st century. He often does so via examples of writing gone terribly wrong, so that readers can study what exactly went awry, and how those mistakes can be avoided. Pinker does not scold or demean as he does this, but rather takes readers along with him on a journey that demonstrates how the science of the mind can shed light on the art and practice of writing.

    AmazonBarnes & NobleIndieboundiBooks

     

  • A Poetry Handbook

    Mary Oliver

    AmazonBarnes & NobleIndieboundiBooks

    Imagine if you could get help with the very basics of writing poetry from a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet? Fact is, you can via Mary Oliver’s book A Poetry Handbook. The handbook is written in a way that makes it a perfect resource for both teens and adults as they start on their poetry journey – and is a useful refresher for veteran poets as well.

    AmazonBarnes & NobleIndieboundiBooks

     

  • A Million Miles in a Thousand Years

    Donald Miller

    AmazonBarnes & NobleIndieboundiBooks

    The ultimate question that Donald Miller asks of his reader in this account of the turning of his book into a movie is, “If life is a story, what kind of story are you living?” After falling into a slump following the success of his book, Miller embarks on a series of projects and adventures so that his story can be as rich and full as possible. Along the way, he discovers that if his real life is meaningful, his stories will be, too. This book will inspire you to not only write the story you’ve always imagined, but also to live it.

    AmazonBarnes & NobleIndieboundiBooks

     

  • Writing Tools

    Roy Peter Clark

    AmazonBarnes & NobleIndieboundiBooks

    What started out as a series of blog posts ended up being one of the most useful and extensive writing guides on the market. More of a practical how-to than a self-help book, the chapters of Roy Peter’s Clark instructional range in topic from “Begin Sentences with Subjects and Verbs” to “Create a Mosaic of Detail to Reveal Character.” Equally useful for writers and editors, Writing Tools empowers the reader to turn good writing into great writing.

    AmazonBarnes & NobleIndieboundiBooks

     

  • On Moral Fiction

    John Gardner

    AmazonBarnes & NobleIndieboundiBooks

    Morality and art have a complicated relationship, but John Gardner faces it fearlessly in this book-length essay. By Gardner’s way of thinking, all real art is moral, but morality doesn’t necessarily have to do with codes of conduct and submission to a Higher Power; it is the ability of art to point to some human value. The harsh lines he draws to distinguish “art” from “not art,” may frustrate some, but even in that case, this book’s ideas stick in the reader’s head.

    AmazonBarnes & NobleIndieboundiBooks

     

  • Still Writing

    Dani Shapiro

    AmazonBarnes & NobleIndieboundiBooks

    Dani Shapiro offers this deeply personal account of her experiences as a writer in a book that is equal parts diary, advice column, and narrative story. She tells of her own success and failures always with candor, sometimes with humor, and never with regret.  Still Writing is a book for both the novice writer and the seasoned veteran, as it will remind all of its readers why they are, indeed, still writing.

    AmazonBarnes & NobleIndieboundiBooks

     

  • First You Write

    Joni Rodgers

    AmazonBarnes & NobleIndieboundiBooks

    Joni Rodgers’ autobiography was published by HarperCollins and became a New York Times bestseller – the writer’s dream, yes? So, then, why did she publish this book with an independent publisher? In First You Write, Rodgers reminds writers why they dedicate themselves to the craft in the first place, including herself. Anyone interested in both writing and publishing would be wise to read this humorous mini-memoir.

    AmazonBarnes & NobleIndieboundiBooks

     

  • Writing Past Dark

    Bonnie Friedman

    AmazonBarnes & NobleIndieboundiBooks

    Bonnie Friedman’s Writing Past Dark is an emotional and psychological writer’s guide. She doesn’t discuss structure, character, or plot, but rather envy, guilt, and writer’s block. She focuses on the hardships of the writer’s life, drawing from personal anecdotes of her own and of historically famous authors (even Shakespeare could get jealous—he said so himself!).

    AmazonBarnes & NobleIndieboundiBooks

     

  • Several Short Sentences About Writing

    Verlyn Klinkenborg

    AmazonBarnes & NobleIndieboundiBooks

    Verlyn Klinkenborg offers an interesting challenge to the reader in his book: forget everything you have ever been taught about writing.  Rather than composing his essay in paragraphs and chapters, Klinkenborg employs a more poetic style of prose. He uses simple sentences in succession to demonstrate his point: that the sentence itself is the most basic element of writing, and that each sentence should do its fair share of work. Put expectations aside before you pick this one up, and you just may find yourself scribbling sentences on the backs of receipts before you know it.

    AmazonBarnes & NobleIndieboundiBooks

     

  • On Writing

    Stephen King

    AmazonBarnes & NobleIndieboundiBooks

    If you’ve ever read a book by renowned American horror novelist Stephen King, you’ve probably wondered just how he comes up with his ideas. For the answer, look no further than On Writing, King’s memoir where he describes his writing process, including anecdotes about how he started some of his most iconic stories.  In addition to recounting his personal experiences, he dedicates a whole chapter to grammar and offers his advice on form.  It’s a great read for anyone in need of inspiration, and how better to make you pay attention than Mr. King?

    AmazonBarnes & NobleIndieboundiBooks

     

  • Telling True Stories

    A Nonfiction Writers' Guide from the Nieman Foundation at Harvard University

    Mark Kramer

    AmazonBarnes & NobleIndieboundiBooks

    Every year, America’s most prominent journalists and nonfiction authors gather at Harvard’s Nieman Conference on Narrative Journalism. Consider this compilation of advice from editors Mark Kramer and Wendy Call the “we attended so you don’t have to” summary of the conference. It’s a Best Of from the best of, and each essay is packed with amazing writing advice that will help hone your narrative voice and exercise it so it is stronger than ever.  Featuring writing from Malcolm Gladwell, Nora Ephron, and Tom Wolfe, Telling True Stories is essential for a writer who wants to learn from some of writing’s heaviest hitters.

    AmazonBarnes & NobleIndieboundiBooks

     

  • The New New Journalism

    Conversations with America's Best Nonfiction Writers on Their Craft

    Robert Boynton

    AmazonBarnes & NobleIndieboundiBooks

    Sometimes, you just want your favorite writer to sit across a table from you and answer some basic questions. In The New New Journalism, Robert Boynton gets to do just that. Set up in Q&A format with each author he interviews, The New New Journalism explores writing styles of the past and present and how they compare to one another.  And despite its intense focus on journalism and reporting, it’s just as relevant to aspiring novelists as Communications majors working on their theses.

    AmazonBarnes & NobleIndieboundiBooks

     

  • The Writer's Journey

    Christopher Vogler

    AmazonBarnes & NobleIndieboundiBooks

    Movie lovers will appreciate this book from Christopher Vogler. He exemplifies his writing tips with movies, a practice that makes this instructional especially helpful for screenwriters. Having received praise from writers and directors such as Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan) and Bruce Joel Rubin (Ghost), The Writer’s Journey can boast its status as an essential to anyone looking to write the next Oscar nominated film. It’s also an excellent field guide for a novelist stuck in a plot maze and desperate to get out.

    AmazonBarnes & NobleIndieboundiBooks

     

  • On Writing Well

    William Zinsser

    AmazonBarnes & NobleIndieboundiBooks

    Today, everyone has to do at least a little bit of writing to make it through the day. E-mails, text messages, and even social media posts are all forms of writing that are, ostensibly, going to an audience. So, why not make the writing some of your best? William Zinsser’s On Writing Well is for the writer in all of us, whether you’re dreaming of a Pulitzer or just trying to talk to your boss. It’s a straightforward, easy read, and by the time you’re done, you just might be able to talk about those “strong written communication skills” on your resume.

    AmazonBarnes & NobleIndieboundiBooks

     

  • Writing Down the Bones

    Freeing the Writer Within

    Natalie Goldberg

    AmazonBarnes & NobleIndieboundiBooks

    Natalie Goldberg is a devout practitioner of Zen Buddhism, and it certain comes through in her book Writing Down the Bones. Goldberg explains how her spirituality has informed her writing. Her tone is encouraging, but she is by no means trying to say that what works her will work for every writer. She simply writes on her own experience, offering simple advice to the reader in the form of short chapters. Writing Down the Bones will help you take a deep breath and keep writing, and isn’t that all writers really want to do, anyway?

    AmazonBarnes & NobleIndieboundiBooks

     

  • The Associated Press Stylebook

    The Associated Press

    AmazonBarnes & NobleIndieboundiBooks

    Behold, the writer’s holy grail. Some of us live and breathe by the rules presented in this book, and still others consider them to be more guidelines than rules. No matter where you land on the spectrum, we’d bet that you’ve got a copy of this in your house somewhere, whether you know it or not. The grammar and punctuation guidelines presented in the book are the most widely used of any other stylebook, and this is the book you should turn to when you’re unsure of where to stick that comma.

    AmazonBarnes & NobleIndieboundiBooks

     

Robert Atwan, the founder of The Best American Essays series, picks the 10 best essays of the postwar period. Links to the essays are provided when available.

Fortunately, when I worked with Joyce Carol Oates on The Best American Essays of the Century (that’s the last century, by the way), we weren’t restricted to ten selections. So to make my list of the top ten essays since 1950 less impossible, I decided to exclude all the great examples of New Journalism--Tom Wolfe, Gay Talese, Michael Herr, and many others can be reserved for another list. I also decided to include only American writers, so such outstanding English-language essayists as Chris Arthur and Tim Robinson are missing, though they have appeared in The Best American Essays series. And I selected essays, not essayists. A list of the top ten essayists since 1950 would feature some different writers.

To my mind, the best essays are deeply personal (that doesn’t necessarily mean autobiographical) and deeply engaged with issues and ideas. And the best essays show that the name of the genre is also a verb, so they demonstrate a mind in process--reflecting, trying-out, essaying.

James Baldwin, "Notes of a Native Son" (originally appeared in Harper’s, 1955)

“I had never thought of myself as an essayist,” wrote James Baldwin, who was finishing his novel Giovanni’s Room while he worked on what would become one of the great American essays. Against a violent historical background, Baldwin recalls his deeply troubled relationship with his father and explores his growing awareness of himself as a black American. Some today may question the relevance of the essay in our brave new “post-racial” world, though Baldwin considered the essay still relevant in 1984 and, had he lived to see it, the election of Barak Obama may not have changed his mind. However you view the racial politics, the prose is undeniably hypnotic, beautifully modulated and yet full of urgency. Langston Hughes nailed it when he described Baldwin’s “illuminating intensity.” The essay was collected in Notes of a Native Son courageously (at the time) published by Beacon Press in 1955.

Norman Mailer, "The White Negro" (originally appeared in Dissent, 1957)

An essay that packed an enormous wallop at the time may make some of us cringe today with its hyperbolic dialectics and hyperventilated metaphysics. But Mailer’s attempt to define the “hipster”–in what reads in part like a prose version of Ginsberg’s “Howl”–is suddenly relevant again, as new essays keep appearing with a similar definitional purpose, though no one would mistake Mailer’s hipster (“a philosophical psychopath”) for the ones we now find in Mailer’s old Brooklyn neighborhoods. Odd, how terms can bounce back into life with an entirely different set of connotations. What might Mailer call the new hipsters? Squares?

Read the essay here.

Susan Sontag, "Notes on 'Camp'" (originally appeared in Partisan Review, 1964)

Like Mailer’s “White Negro,” Sontag’s groundbreaking essay was an ambitious attempt to define a modern sensibility, in this case “camp,” a word that was then almost exclusively associated with the gay world. I was familiar with it as an undergraduate, hearing it used often by a set of friends, department store window decorators in Manhattan. Before I heard Sontag—thirty-one, glamorous, dressed entirely in black-- read the essay on publication at a Partisan Review gathering, I had simply interpreted “campy” as an exaggerated style or over-the-top behavior. But after Sontag unpacked the concept, with the help of Oscar Wilde, I began to see the cultural world in a different light. “The whole point of camp,” she writes, “is to dethrone the serious.” Her essay, collected in Against Interpretation (1966), is not in itself an example of camp.

Read the essay here.

John McPhee, "The Search for Marvin Gardens" (originally appeared in The New Yorker, 1972)

“Go. I roll the dice—a six and a two. Through the air I move my token, the flatiron, to Vermont Avenue, where dog packs range.” And so we move, in this brilliantly conceived essay, from a series of Monopoly games to a decaying Atlantic City, the once renowned resort town that inspired America’s most popular board game. As the games progress and as properties are rapidly snapped up, McPhee juxtaposes the well-known sites on the board—Atlantic Avenue, Park Place—with actual visits to their crumbling locations. He goes to jail, not just in the game but in fact, portraying what life has now become in a city that in better days was a Boardwalk Empire. At essay’s end, he finds the elusive Marvin Gardens. The essay was collected in Pieces of the Frame (1975).

Read the essay here (subscription required).

Joan Didion, "The White Album" (originally appeared in New West, 1979)

Huey Newton, Eldridge Cleaver, and the Black Panthers, a recording session with Jim Morrison and the Doors, the San Francisco State riots, the Manson murders—all of these, and much more, figure prominently in Didion’s brilliant mosaic distillation (or phantasmagoric album) of California life in the late 1960s. Yet despite a cast of characters larger than most Hollywood epics, “The White Album” is a highly personal essay, right down to Didion’s report of her psychiatric tests as an outpatient in a Santa Monica hospital in the summer of 1968. “We tell ourselves stories in order to live,” the essay famously begins, and as it progresses nervously through cuts and flashes of reportage, with transcripts, interviews, and testimonies, we realize that all of our stories are questionable, “the imposition of a narrative line upon disparate images.” Portions of the essay appeared in installments in 1968-69 but it wasn’t until 1979 that Didion published the complete essay in New West magazine; it then became the lead essay of her book, The White Album (1979).

Annie Dillard, "Total Eclipse" (originally appeared in Antaeus, 1982)

In her introduction to The Best American Essays 1988, Annie Dillard claims that “The essay can do everything a poem can do, and everything a short story can do—everything but fake it.” Her essay “Total Eclipse” easily makes her case for the imaginative power of a genre that is still undervalued as a branch of imaginative literature. “Total Eclipse” has it all—the climactic intensity of short fiction, the interwoven imagery of poetry, and the meditative dynamics of the personal essay: “This was the universe about which we have read so much and never before felt: the universe as a clockwork of loose spheres flung at stupefying, unauthorized speeds.” The essay, which first appeared in Antaeus in 1982 was collected in Teaching a Stone to Talk (1982), a slim volume that ranks among the best essay collections of the past fifty years.

Phillip Lopate, "Against Joie de Vivre" (originally appeared in Ploughshares, 1986)

This is an essay that made me glad I’d started The Best American Essays the year before. I’d been looking for essays that grew out of a vibrant Montaignean spirit—personal essays that were witty, conversational, reflective, confessional, and yet always about something worth discussing. And here was exactly what I’d been looking for. I might have found such writing several decades earlier but in the 80s it was relatively rare; Lopate had found a creative way to insert the old familiar essay into the contemporary world: “Over the years,” Lopate begins, “I have developed a distaste for the spectacle of joie de vivre, the knack of knowing how to live.” He goes on to dissect in comic yet astute detail the rituals of the modern dinner party. The essay was selected by Gay Talese for The Best American Essays 1987 and collected in Against Joie de Vivre in 1989.

Read the essay here.

Edward Hoagland, "Heaven and Nature" (originally appeared in Harper’s, 1988)

“The best essayist of my generation,” is how John Updike described Edward Hoagland, who must be one of the most prolific essayists of our time as well. “Essays,” Hoagland wrote, “are how we speak to one another in print—caroming thoughts not merely in order to convey a certain packet of information, but with a special edge or bounce of personal character in a kind of public letter.” I could easily have selected many other Hoagland essays for this list (such as “The Courage of Turtles”), but I’m especially fond of “Heaven and Nature,” which shows Hoagland at his best, balancing the public and private, the well-crafted general observation with the clinching vivid example. The essay, selected by Geoffrey Wolff for The Best American Essays 1989 and collected in Heart’s Desire (1988), is an unforgettable meditation not so much on suicide as on how we remarkably manage to stay alive.

Jo Ann Beard, "The Fourth State of Matter" (originally appeared in The New Yorker, 1996)

A question for nonfiction writing students: When writing a true story based on actual events, how does the narrator create dramatic tension when most readers can be expected to know what happens in the end? To see how skillfully this can be done turn to Jo Ann Beard’s astonishing personal story about a graduate student’s murderous rampage on the University of Iowa campus in 1991. “Plasma is the fourth state of matter,” writes Beard, who worked in the U of I’s physics department at the time of the incident, “You’ve got your solid, your liquid, your gas, and there’s your plasma. In outer space there’s the plasmasphere and the plasmapause.” Besides plasma, in this emotion-packed essay you will find entangled in all the tension a lovable, dying collie, invasive squirrels, an estranged husband, the seriously disturbed gunman, and his victims, one of them among the author’s dearest friends. Selected by Ian Frazier for The Best American Essays 1997, the essay was collected in Beard’s award-winning volume, The Boys of My Youth (1998).

Read the essay here.

David Foster Wallace, "Consider the Lobster" (originally appeared in Gourmet, 2004)

They may at first look like magazine articles—those factually-driven, expansive pieces on the Illinois State Fair, a luxury cruise ship, the adult video awards, or John McCain’s 2000 presidential campaign—but once you uncover the disguise and get inside them you are in the midst of essayistic genius. One of David Foster Wallace’s shortest and most essayistic is his “coverage” of the annual Maine Lobster Festival, “Consider the Lobster.” The Festival becomes much more than an occasion to observe “the World’s Largest Lobster Cooker” in action as Wallace poses an uncomfortable question to readers of the upscale food magazine: “Is it all right to boil a sentient creature alive just for our gustatory pleasure?” Don’t gloss over the footnotes. Susan Orlean selected the essay for The Best American Essays 2004 and Wallace collected it in Consider the Lobster and Other Essays (2005).

Read the essay here. (Note: the electronic version from Gourmet magazine’s archives differs from the essay that appears in The Best American Essays and in his book, Consider the Lobster.)

I wish I could include twenty more essays but these ten in themselves comprise a wonderful and wide-ranging mini-anthology, one that showcases some of the most outstanding literary voices of our time. Readers who’d like to see more of the best essays since 1950 should take a look at The Best American Essays of the Century (2000).

0 comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *