“When it comes to the personal essay, we want so much and there is something cannibalistic about our desire. We want essayists to splay themselves bare. We want to see how much they are willing to bleed for us. This desire introduces an interesting tension for essay writers. How much should they bleed, and how much blood should they save for themselves?” Roxane Gay reviews Meghan Daum‘s The Unspeakable and reflects on the personal essay for The New York Times Book Review. Pair with our own Hannah Gersen‘s Millions review of the same book.
American music lost one of its best songwriters with the passing of Jason Molina last March. Molina was known for his work with Songs: Ohia and Magnolia Electric Co. As a tribute this week on Jimmy Kimmel Live, and as a way of spreading awareness for a May 11 concert in Molina’s memory, Band of Horses covered one of the late musician’s songs, “I’ve Been Riding With the Ghost.” (Original.)
At 3 Quarks Daily, Akeel Bilgrami’s essay on the pleasures of literature: “To understand what is special about literature is not to delegate the emotions to literature while retaining thought for philosophy and science. The idea is to find in the distinctly expressive function of literature, a refusal of that tired dualism.” (via Book Bench)
In a digital age, what’s the point of handwriting? It may seem like there isn’t much point to honing one’s penmanship these days. In Hazlitt, Navneet Alang suggests that handwriting, far from being a lost art, is in fact a “useful alchemy” that retains particular uses. You could also read our own Kevin Hartnett on writing by hand.
The 2014 National Book Awards were just announced earlier this week. In celebration, The Paris Review took a look back at the American Book Awards, which “serve as a reminder that ostensibly prestigious institutions—institutions whose authority and taste depend on their perceived stability—are just as susceptible to whims and trends as the rest of us, which is to say very.”