Monday, October 05, 2009

Best Essays, a request

In earlier days of blogging, people used to publish requests for info all the time. (I am trying to avoid the ugly coinage "bleg.") Now, I guess, that's what Twitter is for. But I am going old school today to ask you to tell me your favorite essay or two these days.

I'm nominating essays for the new edition of the Norton Reader, a commonly used freshman writing textbook. (It's the one I use, too.) I'm doing my homework, rest assured, but I can't read everything and I would love to hear the essays that are thrilling you these days.

Here are some of the things I'm thinking about: Though I was a bit disappointed by Rebecca Walker's collection, I love Dan Savage's "DJ's Homeless Mommy." I liked the essays by ZZ Packer and loved Min Jin Lee's, but they speak from such a position of privilege that they really don't go in a freshman textbook, I don't think. Packer is mordantly funny about having consistently been mistaken for her son's nanny (he is--or was--much fairer than she, having a white father); but Packer is so quickly dismissive of the Midwest that I think she'd lose huge chunks of her audience on a throwaway line. Min Jin's essay is deeply moving but it's about her awkward attachment to her nanny, a woman who is, like Lee herself, an immigrant. I just think the social complexities of New York might not translate broadly.

I'm hoping to find something in Kenny Fries' book. I bought Dwayne Betts's memoir of his time in prison in the hopes that it would lend itself to excerpting; what I've read has been riveting. I have a lead on a great Solnit essay. Ander Monson has a couple great essays, so I'm having trouble choosing which to put forward.

In the end, I'll pick twelve and the editors will take, oh, one or two.

If my list doesn't jog your memory, maybe Maud's will. If you have a winner in mind, I'd love love love to hear about it!

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Two are my favorite essays of all time:

Salman Rushdie on The Wizard of Oz

Cynthia Ozick on Alfred Chester's Wig

Both initially published in The New Yorker.

Al said...

My students really enjoyed David Sedaris and they learned from Malcolm Gladwell more than they enjoyed.

Anonymous said...

Many Rivers to Cross by June Jordan ( _On Call_ )
The Master's Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master's House buy Audre Lorde ( _Sister Outsider_ )

Isabella said...
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