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My essay “The Art of the Chapter” was the sixth most popular essay on The Millions in 2015! This is the second year in a row one of my pieces has made the list. Last year, my review of Michael Schmidt’s The Novel: A Biography was number eleven!

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star-warsThe Literary Star Wars, A History | Literary Hub
And yet Star Wars is an indelible part of American mythology, foundational to the childhoods of millions and millions around the world. Its formula—taken, as we shall see, from Greek myth—has been permanently stamped upon our movies, yes, but also most aspects of our culture at large. Star Wars is as American as baseball, as hotdogs, as apple pie. The blame for the opening-weekend-fixated, superhero-saturated industry it spawned cannot, of course, be completely placed on Star Wars’s shoulders alone, and, in all likelihood, if asked whether they’d prefer to watch Star Wars or something like Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, most Americans—hell, most people—would probably choose the movie with the naïve hero, the masculine hero, the beautiful princess, and the adventures in space… a galaxy far, far away…

essay-collections-2Writers at Work | Literary Hub
On 12 books and 4,500 pages of essay collections from Jessica Hopper, Richard Hell, Christopher Hitchens, Saul Bellow, Lillian Ross, John Lahr, Joni Tevis, Greil Marcus, Helen Vendler, Jeff Nunokawa, Stanley Fish, and Edward Mendelson.

This year has given us essay collections by a wide variety of writers from different points in their careers—some life-spanning tomes, some brazen debuts, some posthumous celebrations, and one novelist working, as William Gass phrased it, “off duty.” And here I wish to discuss 12 of these books, in praise not just of the journalistic/critical essay as art but in general to all its eclectic practitioners—those often unknown and usually underpaid freelancers, those occasional contributors struggling to get by, those staff writers churning out 2,000-word pieces like a court stenographer, whose volume seems to reduce their artistry but who are merely practicing a different kind of art, one that necessarily responds and reacts to the world and its daily shifts, and so instead represents not a finished product but a process of continual creation—here’s to writers at work.