“How could we possibly trust any creature that comes into the world wearing such a caul of ambiguity? That’s “essayists.” Four hundred and four years later, they continue to flourish.” John Jeremiah Sullivan offers a loose history of the essay, essayists, and all their many contradictions in a piece for The New Yorker.
E. V. De Cleyre explores the right moment to end a nonfiction story. She writes that life rarely offers conclusions, and “dealing with actual occurrences often means there is no definitive end, and even if there were (such as a death), there comes the aftermath—the grief, the coping, the rebuilding.” Pair with Sonya Chung’s Millions essay on literary endings.
“Jo Freeman, a feminist writer and activist who worked with Firestone from the beginning, said at the memorial, ‘When I think back on Shulie’s contribution to the movement, I think of her as a shooting star. She flashed brightly across the midnight sky, and then she disappeared.'” At The New Yorker, Susan Faludi writes on the legacy of Shulamith Firestone.
“My idea of the ideal literary dinner party remains locking a book under my left wrist while conveying risotto to my mouth with my right at the kitchen table.” Stacy Schiff talks literary dinner parties and more in this week’s New York Times By the Book column. Schiff’s latest, The Witches: Salem, 1692, is out this week.