Thursday, December 03, 2009

2009 Best American Essays

Let me affirm that I love essays – prefer them to other genres. Non-fiction piques my interest. Well-written, stylistic non-fiction delights.

Even the introduction and the foreword to 2009 Best American Essays caught my attention. A short history of the American essay begins with Washington Irving, whose work few read any more. But somewhere in the back of my memory is an essay on the Pennsylvania Dutch, those who lived in New York City in particular. Irving's delightful observations of a lifestyle completely at odds with the rest of the city create an indelible memory.

As for Montaingne, who can deny his assertions that as an essayist 'I turn my gaze inward. I fix it there and keep it busy. . . I look inside. . . I have no business but with myself. . . I take stock of myself, I taste myself. Others always go elsewhere, . . .. they always go forward. . . As for me, I roll about in myself.' The ultimate narcissist, the essayist grants her/him self permission to investigate a personal view of the universe.

All blogs meet Montaingne's criteria of 'essay' to one degree or another.

The second day in the southern hemisphere dawned at 2:30 this morning with an online order for orange bathroom stink removal oil. Package arrived at 3:30 this afternoon. Pretty dammed fast, I'd say.

I did return to bed around 4:30 to awaken again at 6:30 to begin a day of careful jet lage negotiation enhanced by Richard Rodriquez's The God of the Desert.