Thursday, January 14, 2021

Ten top 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:
Times Square Red, Times Square Blue by Samuel R Delany

This book is an essay in two parts, and it makes its argument in two different ways, once through a personal recollection of sexual encounters in Times Square, and then through an academic exploration of how gentrification degrades urban life. The essay genre is sometimes divided into two major categories – the formal, or academic essay, and the informal, or personal essay. Here the author leverages both, the two halves making one intriguing book. It is a moving elegy for a Times Square that is now lost, and a spirited appreciation of the porn cinemas and peep shows that brought together men of various races and classes.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue