• ESSAYS

Things That Are

Amy Leach's pristine essays tackle bodies big and small. From the universe's great celestial constellations to the modest lives of donkeys and sea cucumbers, each chapter's subject comes to life via Leach's inquisitive, inspiring curiosity.

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  • ESSAYS

The Empathy Exams

Leslie Jamison unbridles the bonds that link one individual to another, using her own experiences as well as a raft of cultural observations to find that essential trait which separates the gentle from the sociopathic.

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Portrait Inside My Head

A true man of letters in poetry, novels, and memoirs, Phillip Lopate turns his hand now to another collection of essays, a volume that sprawls engagingly over such varied terrain as "My Brother the Radio Host" to "Why I Remain a Baseball Fan."

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  • ESSAYS

MFA vs. NYC

Chad Harbach (The Art of Fielding) assembles a stellar cast of contributors to spell out two camps of contemporary literature - academia and the publishers track - finding fun, intelligent arguments in favor of each mode.

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  • ESSAYS

White Girls

The long-awaited unclassifiable collection of short pieces by Hilton Als finds the essayist riffing on a vast array of cultural tropes, all subsumed under his chosen title that even includes Truman Capote and Michael Jackson.

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  • ESSAYS

The Kraus Project

This newly translated work of a forgotten and high-minded European intellectual garnered advance publicity aplenty, thanks to the involvement by literary light Jonathan Franzen, who finds in Karl Kraus's work the template of our own disaffected age.

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  • ESSAYS

Critical Mass

James Wolcott collects the best of his captivating essays from his earliest days at The Village Voice to his monthly column in Vanity Fair, still essential reading each month for its "Hand Grenades, and Hurrahs".

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Potluck Supper with Meeting to Follow

Andy Sturdevant offers up lively essays concerning the contemporary Midwest, Buffalo Wild Wings and futuristic birdhouses, among other curious topics.

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Sister Mother Husband Dog: Etc.

Delia Ephron, younger sibling of the late Nora, brings us her signature wit and wry prose in a collection of personal essays on love, writing, and her rivalrous and affectionate relationship with her older sister.

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  • ESSAYS

My 1980s and Other Essays

Cultural critic and gay icon Wayne Koestenbaum’s collection of essays and personal anecdotes is a witty and passionate look at the history and future of intellectualism in America.

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  • ESSAYS

The Hall of Uselessness

Writer and sinologist Simon Leys’ timely essay collection tackles pertinent issues in the era of globalization – namely, the future of Belgium, the Cambodian genocide, and the far-reaching impact of Mao’s Cultural Revolution.

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  • ESSAYS

We Have Only This Life to Live

This rich collection of Sartre’s essays on such topics as New York, jazz, Faulkner and the Algerian revolution exudes the existential master's singular conviction of the importance of the self.

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  • ESSAYS

Forty-one False Starts

What defines creativity? Janet Malcolm investigates the working lives of artists and writers, from Diane Arbus and J.D. Salinger to Gossip Girl's Cecily von Ziegesar.

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  • ESSAYS

The Story of America

Examining everything from the paper ballot to Benjamin Franklin's Way to Wealth, Jill Lepore's new collection of essays explores how Americans have created themselves through the medium of print. The result is a history of American origins -- through the stories we tell ourselves and others about where we come from.

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  • ESSAYS

Some Remarks

Famed for his brilliant, wrist-taxing novels such as Anathem and Cryptonomicon, Neal Stephenson proves equally virtuosic at shorter lengths. The erudite essays in his first nonfiction collection cover disparate topics unified by the author's geeky enthusiasm. Laying trans-Pacific cable, the benefits of switching to a treadmill desk, the "innovation starvation" that plagues contemporary science fiction -- all these subjects and more are traversed with joy and insight.

 

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  • ESSAYS

My Heart Is an Idiot

A compilation of unrequited love stories and ill-conceived adventures, Davy Rothbart's debut essay collection is by turns hilarious and heartbreaking. As he describes sharing a swimming pool with a dead body or urinating in glass bottles following an ankle injury, Rothbart's prose soars even as his subjects dismay.

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  • ESSAYS

What Light Can Do

In his first collection of essays in more than 25 years, Robert Haas considers subjects that include photography, the relationship between art and violence, and our relationship with the natural world. Interspersed with photos and characterized by the author's unparalleled erudition, this volume perfectly illustrates Hass's claim that "the deepest response to a work of art is, in fact, another work of art."

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  • ESSAYS

I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts

His subjects range from the suicide note as literary genre to the theme-parking of the Holocaust. But though Mark Dery's "drive-by essays" are sure to court controversy, the writer's commitment to entering intellectual no-fly zones make this collection a daring, bravura work of cultural criticism.

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  • ESSAYS

Magic Hours

Tom Bissell ponders creators, their creations, and the toll that creativity takes.  From Herzog's films to a sitcom set -- and on to the world of a novelist who became an icon for a generation, these essays infectiously transmit the passion shared by the writer and his subjects.

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  • ESSAYS

Lost in Language & Sound

Readers familiar with poet/author/playwright Notzake Shange's work, including her award-winning play For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf, know she can explore the touchiest topics (race, gender) with power, passion, and lyrical flair. In this memoir/collection of essays, she considers her life as a woman of color and an artist, as well as her childhood and the love for music and dance she inherited from her parents.

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  • ESSAYS

The Other Walk

One of America's finest literary critics brings us 45 short autobiographical pieces meditating on the necessity and delight of quiet contemplation in a busy existence. With topics ranging from a cherished photo of his son to the majesty of the Roman Colosseum, Sven Birkert's thoughtful and elegant pensées reveal the enchantment awaiting anyone who slows down long enough to look.

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  • ESSAYS

In Praise of Reading and Fiction

Peruvian novelist Mario Vargas Llosa was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature last December, and this slim, handsome volume, translated by Edith Grossman, brings his Nobel Lecture to a wider audience. It is an eloquent and wise defence of imaginative literature and the liberties of every kind it fosters.

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  • ESSAYS

Shakespeare's Freedom

Stephen Greenblatt, the peerless critic and biographer of Shakespeare, is at his most incisive in this slender collection of essays. Discussing beauty, power, hatred, and—most crucially —the artist's own special freedom, Greenblatt takes us on a journey that sheds new light on the world of Cymbeline, The Merchant of Venice, and The Tempest.

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  • ESSAYS

Patience

A primer on one of the most neglected and powerful of virtues: taking time. Akiko Busch explores her theme with well-paced alertness, mixing reminiscences, observations of nature, and her attentive reading into a book that is filled wisdom, usefulness, and consolation.

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  • ESSAYS

The Lost Art of Reading

Prove Philip Roth wrong in his prediction that in a few decades serious readers will be nearly extinct. Take up the torch of thoughtful literacy argued for so capably and passionately by David Ulin, in this expansion of his potent Los Angeles Times essay.

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  • ESSAYS

In Utopia

It's a sad fact about our human species that we can always imagine recipes for disaster better than those for success. So anytime bold dreamers conjure up a method for reaching paradise on Earth, even if it's crackpot and doomed, their schemes can seduce us. J. C. Hallman dissects six such blueprints for happiness with mordant tongue-in-cheek.

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  • essays

Take Good Care of the Garden and the Dogs

Readers of If You Lived Here, I'd Know Your Name (2005), Heather Lende's first chronicle of life in small-town Alaska, will welcome the arrival of her second. She's smart, surprising, and good company. Read more...

  • essays

Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu

John Updike's legendary and affectionate farewell to Ted Williams, the greatest of the Boston Red Sox, is here given a luxe and loving reissue by the Library of America. Read more...

  • essays

Reporting at Wit’s End

The best essays and articles from a longtime New Yorker writer too long relegated to the shadows cast by A. J. Liebling and Joseph Mitchell, distinguished by vintage portraits of a long-gone NYC. Read more...

  • ESSAYS

Silk Parachute

The inimitable McPhee returns with this collection of ten pieces, which range in subject from a toy silk parachute, lacrosse, weird foods, geology, and the U.S. Open golf championship. Read more...

July 28: Percy Bysshe Shelley and Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin eloped on this day in 1814.

Crime fiction legends Dennis Lehane and Michael Connelly discuss the new book that unites their beloved sleuths Patrick Kenzie and Harry Bosch.

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