Dot Dot Dot Dot Dot | Against the Contemporary American Essay

Jackson Arn

What the face mask is to American society, the essay is to American literature: deceptively slight, heroically versatile, centuries old but lately a subject of great interest — not because it’s doing anything new, but because everything else is falling apart. The essay, James Wood wrote in The New Yorker, “has for some time now been gaining energy as an escape from, or rival to, the perceived conservatism of much...

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