The Essays Have It

In today’s mail I found this:  9 longish pieces from Ploughshares in one bound volume.

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One of the 3 essays was written by my favorite writing teacher, Eileen Pollack.  Brilliant and funny and gut-punching and sardonic and lovely, poetic language.

I was flipping through the pages and, no offense to the fiction writers, but I’m so drawn to nonfiction lately.  What’s that about?  I feel like it’s time —- even though summer is infamously known for lighter reading, for romance and mystery, for the “it” thriller,  for big-fat-juicy novels like THE WINDS OF WAR or OUTLANDER (aaaaahhhh!),— for a giant essay collection, or a nonfiction book that will lock me right down into my chair … and not let me up.


Are you reading any good nonfiction?  You know, the kind that makes you want to scream and yell and insist on punishment of death that the rest of us read it?  Like, right now?


24 thoughts on “The Essays Have It

  1. chillcat

    I love non-fiction because there is so much to learn! I’ve been rereading Andrew Sullivan who is brilliant and one of my favourite moments of the week is when I sit down to read Brain Pickings – essays about creativity and so much more, beautifully written. I think both forms can lean on the other even though I’d be utterly daunted by the idea of writing a sturdy essay. I’m so waffly…

    1. Teri Post author

      I need to read BRAIN PICKINGS. And the last word I might use to describe you would be “waffly.”

  2. independentclause

    “Coming Clean” by Kimberly Rae Miller was very good. I read “Out of the Woods” by Lynn Darling, which I liked but didn’t adore. Next on the list is Pearl Cleage’s memoir. I can’t remember the title just now and I’m too lazy to get up and look for it. I’m happy to be on a memoir spate. (When Second Job ends for the summer, I discover that I have time to read! A lot.)

    1. Teri Post author

      I’ve got a reading backlog right now, mostly fiction. The pile continues to grow. And now, inexplicably, I’m all about the nonfiction. Oy.

    1. Teri Post author

      I was just reading The Guardian article. As usual, Stephen King — a gun owner — has it down to common sense. I can hear his voice saying every word.

      “Guys, gals, now hear this: no one wants to take away your hunting rifles. No one wants to take away your shotguns. No one wants to take away your revolvers, and no one wants to take away your automatic pistols, as long as said pistols hold no more than 10 rounds. If you can’t kill a burglar with 10 shots, you need to go back to the shooting range.

      Men (it’s always men) who go postal and take out as many innocents as they can may be crazy, but that doesn’t mean they’re stupid. They don’t arrive at the scenes of their proposed slaughters armed with single-shot .22s or old-style six-round revolvers; they bring heavy artillery.”

  3. donnaeve

    I have a memoir I want to read, but am focused on trying to read the sort of books that might help with this latest WIP. The memoir in waiting is called SLACKJAW by John Knipfel. It’s not a large book, but I know I’m going to love it. And…I still haven’t read CHRONOLOGY OF WATER. Or, dare I say it, WILD. (eeek)

    1. Teri Post author

      I’m embarrassed to say how many times I’ve read and listened to WILD. I own it in hardback, in paperback, on audio, and on my eReader.

      1. donnaeve

        I will simply have to bust out of this suspense rut and read WILD. I’ve heard so many good things about it – including the fact you own every possible way of absorbing it – well – except to have Cheryl Strayed whispering passages in your ear. 🙂

      2. amyg

        Chronology of Water is my totem spirit book. or, at least, one of them. so is me talk pretty one day – my spirit is far reaching.

      3. donnaeve

        I knew CoW was going to be one of those that would suck me in b/c by the very first page, I was captivated. (which is how I choose books) Same with SLACKJAW. And David Sedaris…well, I just need to read him for the simple fact had was brought up in Raleigh, NC my hometown.

      4. Teri Post author

        I feel crazy-protective of Chronology of Water, and I’m saving the re-read for just the right time. Last night I saw an ad for a TV movie called “The Chronology of Rain” and wanted to throw my book at the TV !!!

      5. amyg

        There is nothing to be embarrassed about reading a book multiple times – I just figure I’m doing my part for all the non readers (god bless their souls)

  4. amyg

    I’m reading Carsick by john waters b/c I love him. Ariel Gore’s How to be a Famous Writer Before You Die. Rebecca Stolnit Far Nearby. & I’m going to start a new fiction book tonight that I’m sure is going to totally suck me in as its by one of my favorite people.

    I’m kinda all over the place, right? You know what I got in the mail today? I new pair of running shoes. I immediately took them out for a trot and w/in 20 minutes (or approximately 1.5 miles) from my house a down pour occurred completely drenching my new shoes.

    1. Teri Post author

      Thanks for the Rebecca Solnit reminder, AmyG. And I know I’m laughing like mad about your shoes —- because that’s just crazy-mad-nutso, right?!?!

  5. Mary Lynne

    Wild is next on my list. The last NF that I had to proselytise about was Monuments Men. Don’t judge by the movie–it was a thrilling page turner that kept me up at night. I love art and art history so I was in awe of what those men and women did. The follow-up about Italy called Saving Italy wasn’t nearly the book that Monuments Men was. I think he ran out of steam.

    1. Teri Post author

      My neighbor read Monuments Men and said the same thing. That it’s excellence should not be ruined by the bad movie version. (which now has me thinking about the very few good-movie-versions of excellent books…. hmmmmm)

  6. joplingirl

    Just finished DEPARTMENT OF SPECULATION by Jenny Offill. So good. Next up non-fiction. WAVE by Sonali Deraniyagila and THE EMPATHY EXAMS by Leslie Jamison. Then back to fiction. The new release of Kate Zambreno’s GREEN GIRL.

      1. joplingirl

        I’m reading so much now because I am not writing which is killing me. So I read even faster.

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