“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.
“Every journal is a confessional. If it’s in the first person, it cannot help but be. Unless the author of it lies to himself—and that makes it even more of a confessional. For some reason, travel brings out confessions one would never make at home. I am trying to draw the rake of my journal over the landscape. Perhaps I will uncover something.” Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s new collection of travel journals, Writing Across the Landscape, is out now. Travel on back to The Millions for Kate McCahill’s essay on traveling with books.
When did Samuel Beckett's "fail better" become the motto of Silicon Valley? At Slate, our own Mark O'Connell traces the history of the phrase. "Fail Better, with its TEDishly counterintuitive feel, is the literary takeaway par excellence; it’s usefully suggestive, too, of the corporate propaganda of productivity, with its appeals to 'think different' or 'work smarter' or 'just do it.'"