Essays

  • Essayism

    Brian Dillon

    Imagine a type of writing so hard to define its very name should be something like: an effort, an attempt, a trial. Surmise or hazard, followed likely by failure. Imagine what it might rescue from disaster and achieve at the levels of form, style, texture and therefore (though some might cavil at “therefore”) at the

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  • Known and Strange Things

    Teju Cole

    This collection of essays is divided into three sections — “Reading Things,” “Seeing Things,” and “Being There” — and for me they progress from the least cohesive to the most cohesive. Many of the literary essays feel more like sketches than fully fleshed out essays, and I slowly worked through these over the summer before lulling out...more

  • Forty-One False Starts

    Janet Malcolm

    As a collection, Forty-One False Starts falls to the side of indiscriminate, especially the several shorter essays at the end that felt like they were included more because they fit the theme of artists and writers than because they had something truly remarkable to say. Maybe they were victims of placement, but they probably stand...more

  • Our daily lives have to be a satisfaction in themselves

    Emily Larned (publisher)

    You may remember how it was in the early ’70s. Feminists were really angry. We thought that we’d suddenly discovered something that we’d explain to men and everything would change. —Selma Miriam

    This beautiful book is handmade by Emily Larned, put...more

  • Tell Me How It Ends

    Valeria Luiselli

    First published in 2016, Valeria Luiselli wrote this long essay before the Trump administration came into office and further muddled already insufficient immigration policies. Structured around the forty questions she asked undocumented children from Central America during her volunteer work helping connect these children with legal...more

  • Meaty

    Samantha Irby

    At times bawdy and at others incisively poignant, Samantha Irby dishes on topics like sex & celibacy, reality TV, body image, and Crohn’s disease. Then she will switch tracks and talk about becoming the primary caretaker of her mother, who was disabled from a combination of...more

  • Life in Code

    Ellen Ullman

    After reading Ellen Ullman’s novel By Blood, I’ve been meaning to get to her memoir Close to the Machine, but before I could get around to that, she published another book centered around her experiences as a programmer, from before and during the early years of the internet. These...more

  • We Gon’ Be Alright

    Jeff Chang

    Essays on race arguing that inequality impacts everyone. Jeff Chang whittles big concepts down into a manageable book — it’s a petite volume, but I marked it up a lot. I’m gonna be lazy and just share a bunch of excerpts here since I took so long to get around to writing something up, and his words are more succinct than mine...more

  • Too Much and Not the Mood

    Durga Chew-Bose

    The title of this book comes from an entry in Virginia Woolf’s diary, where she wrote about being tired of the “cramming in and cutting out” to please readers. I wanted to really love this book, expected it even, from the context of the title and the blurb that references Maggie Nelson’s Bluets, Lydia Davis’s short...more

  • Float

    Anne Carson

    First, this is an intriguing object: a clear box filled with twenty-two chapbooks. Each cover is printed in a similar texture in shades that to me represent the range of hues of bodies of water at different times of day and in various types of weather: blues, deep blues, grays, greens. Inside the text has similar variance whether...more

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