Thursday, January 14, 2021

Top ten unconventional essays

Eula Biss is the author of four books, most recently Having and Being Had. Her book On Immunity was named one of the Ten Best Books of 2014 by the New York Times Book Review, and Notes from No Man’s Land won the National Book Critics Circle award for criticism in 2009.

At the Guardian, Biss tagged "10 book-length essays that appeal to [her] in their style, and that informed [her] writing of Having and Being Had." One title on the list:
Holy Land by DJ Waldie

This book artfully documents the planning and construction of a blue-collar suburb in California, as well as a life lived in that suburb from infancy to middle age. It is composed of several hundred numbered sections, most no longer than a page and some no longer than a sentence, all of them quietly poetic. One reads: “In a suburb that is not exactly middle class, the necessary illusion is predictability.” This work invites the reader to consider how our lives are shaped by the structures we live within, and to wonder what it might mean to live a “good life”, in both material and spiritual terms. These questions were often on my mind as I was writing Having and Being Had.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue