Cover Image: The Contemporary American Essay

The Contemporary American Essay

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Member Reviews

Reading this long book went much quicker than expected. Truly I thought this would take months, reading other books in-between, but I just enjoyed the essays! I wanted to see what was next, so kept reading. 

While most follow the traditional form of an essay, several do not. It is the exploration of the form as well as subject matter that makes up this volume, being quite diverse, although all published within the last 20 or so years. 

Two of the inclusions were excerpts from larger works, and many, if not most are pulled from a book of essays (according to the copyright permissions listed in the back.) I did wish that information was included with the title, year and where the work first appeared.

As with most anthologies there are some entries that speak to the reader more than others. The essays were also of varying lengths, with some being just a few pages and others reaching over twenty. 

Each essay held a surprise, some are striking and will stay with you for a while

NOTE: While I had the advance electronic copy (thank you Anchor/Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group), I also had a published print book, which is what I read. I discovered there were four essays included in the published version not in the advanced reader copy.
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This is a fine collection of essay that covers a wide range of themes. Each one is a stunner, and ties razor-sharp reflection and sometimes critiques, on modern American culture, displaying acute nuances of the human mind and relationships. My favorite ones are Portrait of the Bagel As a Young Man, Greedy Sleep and Information Sickness.
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A truly special anthology full of great writing, even if some of it wasn’t to my personal taste. Highly recommend for larger library collections.
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Lopate's book is a third in a series that collects America essays.  I have read the first, and considered it a great collection.  This one also is great, but takes from much more recent work.  There is something here for everyone.  While the collection is diverse in perspective and in content, you will set it down with many of the essays still ringing in your mind.  

This is a book that will make you think more than you expect it to; it challenges some of the subtle and not so subtle intricacies of human everyday life.

It's hard to compare this too much to the first volume, as I see that as a collection of historical sources.  This speaks to us too, as Americans, looking at ourselves today.
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