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The Anchor Essay Annual: The Best of 1998
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0385484143, Paperback)The essay is having something of a renaissance these days, and to celebrate we have the 1998 Anchor Essay Annual. In his introduction, Phillip Lopate writes, "It is certainly unarguable that aspects of the personal essay have begun to bleed into other, more traditionally impersonal, essay types.... What is less noticeable, perhaps, is that the influence has also gone the other way: our personal essayists are groping more and more to incorporate other-than-personal subject matter--that is, to address disciplines and arguments that take them beyond the narrowness of self." To prove his point, Lopate has included pieces of every persuasion, from the personal to the formal and all the variations in between. There is, for example, Vivian Gornick's "The Princess and the Pea," a meditation on unfulfilled longing. "I was born to find the wrong man," she writes. "Not finding him was the defining experience. It is the same with the princess and the pea. She's not after the prince, she's after the pea." At the opposite end of the spectrum is Gilles Deleuze's scholarly deconstruction of Melville's Bartleby the Scrivener: "Bartleby is neither a metaphor for the writer nor the symbol of anything whatsoever. It is a violently comical text, and the comical is always literal."
Lopate truly has included something for everyone. Topics range from the intensely personal (William Maxwell's "Nearing 90") to the political (Norman Podhoretz's "Lolita, My Mother-in-Law, the Marquis de Sade, and Larry Flynt") to the macabre (Francine Prose's "The Old Morgue"). The 29 essays contained in this volume are truly the cream of the crop, shining examples of the form in all its permutations. This is a perfect book for readers with inquiring minds and voracious appetites for variety; reading The Anchor Essay Annual is like dining out at a buffet--plenty to sample in bite-size servings. --Margaret Prior
(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:50 -0400)
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