The essay is more popular than ever. At Salon, talks to Leslie Jamison (author of The Empathy Exams, here’s our review) and Roxane Gay (author of the forthcoming Bad Feminist) about the power of the genre. Gay believes our interest in essays is because of a “cultural preoccupation with the exposure of the self.” They also discuss if we’re in a golden age of women essayists. “Sometimes when men write about private feeling, it’s seen as exploratory or daring, and when women write about private feeling it’s seen as limited or in the vein of a kind of circumscribed emotional writing,” Jamison says.
Cool idea from Quarterly: a subscription service “that enables people to receive physical items in the mail from influential contributors of their choice.” I mean, who wouldn’t want some mail from Maud Newton, Jason Kottke, and Maria Popova (Brain Pickings)?
In 1970, a journalist named Joseph Epstein wrote an essay for Harper’s that came to a frightening conclusion: that Epstein would, if possible, “wish homosexuality off the face of the Earth.” The incendiary language inspired Merle Miller, a former editor at the magazine, to publish a call-to-arms, “What It Means to Be a Homosexual,” that became the basis of the book On Being Different. Emily Greenhouse puts the essay in context at Page-Turner.
To give context to a new William Vollmann essay about reading his own FBI profile (available to subscribers only, sadly), Harper’s Magazine published a few pages from Vollmann’s file online. Among other things, they reveal that the FBI considered Vollman “exceedingly intelligent and possessed with an enormous ego.” (For a taste of the Harper’s essay, you can read this WaPo article on Vollmann’s connection to the Unabomber.)
From Hunger Games‘s Katniss to Divergent‘s Tris, today’s YA heroines are confident, intelligent, powerful, and always skinny. At The Atlantic, Julianne Ross argues that this scrawny stereotype ends up belittling the heroines’ independence and strength. “Just as women are expected to be sexual but not slutty, pure but not prudish, heroines should be strong but not buff.”