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millionsmillions:

The essay is more popular than ever. At Salon, Michele Filgate talks to Leslie Jamison (author of The Empathy Exams, here’s our review) and Roxane Gay (author of the forthcoming Bad Feminist) about the power of the genre. Gay believes our interest in essays is because of a “cultural preoccupation with the exposure of the self.” They also discuss if we’re in a golden age of women essayists. “Sometimes when men write about private feeling, it’s seen as exploratory or daring, and when women write about private feeling it’s seen as limited or in the vein of a kind of circumscribed emotional writing,” Jamison says.

millionsmillions:

The essay is more popular than ever. At Salon, talks to Leslie Jamison (author of The Empathy Exams, here’s our review) and Roxane Gay (author of the forthcoming Bad Feminist) about the power of the genre. Gay believes our interest in essays is because of a “cultural preoccupation with the exposure of the self.” They also discuss if we’re in a golden age of women essayists. “Sometimes when men write about private feeling, it’s seen as exploratory or daring, and when women write about private feeling it’s seen as limited or in the vein of a kind of circumscribed emotional writing,” Jamison says.

…I feel like it makes sense to me that, in an era where there is so much self-exposure and kind of unself-aware, or uncritical ways, like reality television, or the way that people are constantly constructing themselves and consuming other people through Facebook profiles and Twitter feeds, that the essay offers the opportunity for a kind of annotated self-exposure, a sort of self-exposure that’s also questioning itself and being aware of its moves and interrogating its own moves, and when I think about the confessional writing that I love, [it’s] precisely because you get this thrill of exposure that I do think shares something with all of our forms of reality consumption — but you get that thrill of exposure alongside a certain kind of self-consciousness and a certain kind of contextualizing.

Leslie Jamison

Leslie Jamison and Roxane Gay: “Men are crowned as the gold standard of the genre. It’s gonna change” - Salon.com

I interviewed Leslie Jamison and Roxane Gay for Salon. Anyone who is interested in essays should read this interview.

TONIGHT at communitybookstore at 7pm:
Join Community Bookstore for a discussion of George Eliot’s masterwork Middlemarch with New Yorker staff writer Rebecca Mead and writer Kathryn Schulz (author of Being Wrong) of New York magazine. Mead’s new book, My Life in Middlemarch, explores the history of Eliot’s life in letters and how readers relate to their favorite books. Moderated by writer and Community Bookstore Events Coordinator Michele Filgate.

TONIGHT at communitybookstore at 7pm:

Join Community Bookstore for a discussion of George Eliot’s masterwork Middlemarch with New Yorker staff writer Rebecca Mead and writer Kathryn Schulz (author of Being Wrong) of New York magazine. Mead’s new book, My Life in Middlemarch, explores the history of Eliot’s life in letters and how readers relate to their favorite books. Moderated by writer and Community Bookstore Events Coordinator Michele Filgate.


Spring

By Edna St. Vincent Millay


To what purpose, April, do you return again?
Beauty is not enough.
You can no longer quiet me with the redness
Of little leaves opening stickily.
I know what I know.
The sun is hot on my neck as I observe
The spikes of the crocus.
The smell of the earth is good.
It is apparent that there is no death.
But what does that signify?
Not only under ground are the brains of men
Eaten by maggots.
Life in itself
Is nothing,
An empty cup, a flight of uncarpeted stairs.
It is not enough that yearly, down this hill,
April
Comes like an idiot, babbling and strewing flowers.

Spring

By Edna St. Vincent Millay

To what purpose, April, do you return again?
Beauty is not enough.
You can no longer quiet me with the redness
Of little leaves opening stickily.
I know what I know.
The sun is hot on my neck as I observe
The spikes of the crocus.
The smell of the earth is good.
It is apparent that there is no death.
But what does that signify?
Not only under ground are the brains of men
Eaten by maggots.
Life in itself
Is nothing,
An empty cup, a flight of uncarpeted stairs.
It is not enough that yearly, down this hill,
April
Comes like an idiot, babbling and strewing flowers.

Two panels

I’m moderating two panels at community bookstore​.

The first one is on Middlemarch. I’ll talk about one of the best books of all time with Rebecca Mead (My Life in Middlemarch) and Kathryn Schulz (book critic for NY Magazine) this coming Thursday (4/24) at 7pm. 

Next Tuesday, 4/29, I’ll moderate a panel on essays featuring three fantastic writers: Jessica Hendry Nelson (If Only You People Could Follow Directions), Leslie Jamison (The Empathy Exams) and Valeria Luiselli (Sidewalks). 

In one sense, reading is a great waste of time. In another sense, it is a great extension of time, a way for one person to live a thousand and one lives in a single lifespan, to watch the great impersonal universe at work again and again, to watch the great personal psyche spar with it, to suffer affliction and weakness and injury, to die and watch those you love die, until the very dizziness of it all becomes a source of compassion for ourselves, and our language, which we alone created, and without which the letter that slipped under the door could never have been written, or, once in a thousand lives—is that too much to ask?—retrieved, and read. Did I mention supreme joy? That is why I read: I want everything to be okay. That’s why I read when I was a lonely kid and that’s why I read now that I’m a scared adult. It’s a sincere desire, but a sincere desire always complicates things—the universe has a peculiar reaction to our sincere desires. Still, I believe the planet on the table, even when wounded and imperfect, fragmented and deprived, is worthy of being called whole. Our minds and the universe—what else is there? Margaret Mead described intellectuals as those who are bored when they don’t have the chance to talk interestingly enough. Now a book will talk interestingly to you. George Steiner describes the intellectual as one who can’t read without a pencil in her hand. One who wants to talk back to the book, not take notes but make them: one who might write “The giraffe speaks!” in the margin. In our marginal existence, what else is there but this voice within us, this great weirdness we are always leaning forward to listen to?