Take one daily and call me every morning. That’s the website header for Essay Daily, the source for this anthology.
Founded by Monson (Creative Writing/Univ. of Arizona; Letter to a Future Lover: Marginalia, Errata, Secrets, Inscriptions, and Other Ephemera Found in Libraries, 2015, etc.) as a sort of rival to a number of popular poetry daily websites, Essay Daily has been publishing an essay per day (almost) since 2010. In his introduction, Monson quotes Edward Hoagland: “Essays are how we speak to one another in print.” Monson and Reinbold, the former Essay Daily managing editor, provide a series of eclectic essays, many of which demonstrate that an essay can be a number of things. Marcia Aldrich, in her discussion of Bernard Cooper’s “The Fine Art of Sighing,” notes its “concise and lyrical prose, its brevity…[and] the constructed undertow of its associative method.” In a terrific and highly informative essay by Robert Atwan, longtime editor of the Best American Essays series, he wonders why the essay suffered “diminished literary status” for much of the 20th century, why it was relegated to a “minor or even subliterary genre.” He points his finger at John Crowe Ransom, noting even E.B. White once called the essayist a “second-class citizen.” No more. This book clearly demonstrates the essay is alive and well, kicking and evolving, grappling with its place in literature. Here one will encounter the “long-lyric essay,” a couple essays about book-long essays, and a piece about a lady who wrote only one piece, an essay. There’s also a piece on Phillip Lopate’s The Art of the Personal Essay and one by Lopate himself on a little-known “gem” by Max Beerbohm, And Even Now. Other contributors include John D’Agata, Albert Goldbarth, Elena Passarello, and V.V. Ganeshananthan.
A cornucopia of essays sure to lead to conversations with one another that will inform, puzzle, and surprise.