Dillard's rendering of this experience showcases her enviable abilities to both observe and describe. It's collected in Teaching a Stone to Talk. Well-known nature writer Barry Lopez shocked many when he published this essay in January, in which he confessed being raped throughout his adolescence by his mother's sometime boyfriend. It is an affecting and horrifying portrait of what it is to be a victim of sexual abuse. Unfortunately you do have to be a Harper's subscriber to read it for now.
Prior to penning and Animal Farm , Orwell was posted as a policeman in Burma, where he once had to shoot a rampaging elephant. The resultant essay, published in , is a condemnation of imperialism — and his own selfish desire to not be implicated by it. Read it online or find it in the collection of the same title.
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Yes, Wallace deserves two on this list. Also collected in A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again and originally published in Harper's , this is another travelogue turned existential rumination that shows unabashedly and hilariously the horrors of society this time via a cruise ship and really says more about the author himself. Saunders is more famous for his fiction like many of the folks on this list but that doesn't mean his essays are not fantastic. The first in the eponymous collection , "The Braindead Megaphone" takes on the current political and media climate in America that will make you shake your head in a I've-always-thought-that-but-never-really-put-it-that-way-myself way.
Tisdale was a nurse at an abortion clinic when she published this essay in She writes honestly and movingly about something she knows few want to think let alone read about. Of course Didion also gets two on this list.
If you have not read this classic, do so now. It tracks our culture's — and the author's — transition out of the cataclysmic era that was the late '60s into something else much darker. It also contains an unforgettable image of Jim Morrison wearing black vinyl pants. Find it in the collection of the same name. Posted on August 26, , GMT. Sandy Allen. Read the essay here. I was familiar with it as an undergraduate, hearing it used often by a set of friends, department store window decorators in Manhattan.
But after Sontag unpacked the concept, with the help of Oscar Wilde, I began to see the cultural world in a different light. I roll the dice—a six and a two.
Through the air I move my token, the flatiron, to Vermont Avenue, where dog packs range. As the games progress and as properties are rapidly snapped up, McPhee juxtaposes the well-known sites on the board—Atlantic Avenue, Park Place—with actual visits to their crumbling locations.
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He goes to jail, not just in the game but in fact, portraying what life has now become in a city that in better days was a Boardwalk Empire. The essay was collected in Pieces of the Frame Read the essay here subscription required.
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Annie Dillard, "Total Eclipse" originally appeared in Antaeus , A question for nonfiction writing students: When writing a true story based on actual events, how does the narrator create dramatic tension when most readers can be expected to know what happens in the end? I wish I could include twenty more essays but these ten in themselves comprise a wonderful and wide-ranging mini-anthology, one that showcases some of the most outstanding literary voices of our time. Subscribers: to set up your digital access click here.
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