Our essay-issue features travel in the literal and metaphorical senses. The road trip, that distinctly American form of pilgrimage, is the central event in Robert Lacy’s poignant essay about traveling with his mother, and—despite his not having a car—the chosen mode of travel for Warner Berthoff, who recounts hitchhiking around the South. Catharine Savage Brosman tests John Donne’s famous dictum, "Every man is an island," in her essay on life, travel, and a sense of self. Voyeurism, stormy seas, and danger unite in Richard O'Mara's recounting, while Robert Ashcom remembers a different kind of oceanic peril, writing about his adventures at sea as a young man in the fifties. Travel back in time to New York City in 1911 to reexamine the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, then stick around to explore New York City through the writing of Elizabeth Hardwick. In an essay as that’s as quirky as its subject, Earl Rovit sketches his friend Klaus, whom he met while teaching in Germany. The academic life abroad is also the milieu of G. D. Lillibridge’s essay about living with his family in France following ww ii.
I was living through a moment of singular pause, when everything, all the mighty forces, held still: the wind stopped like sucked-in breath; the sea was seized in a slack-water calm, though the waves, unaccepting of this stasis, continued to caress the shore with the lethal tenderness of one who nuzzles a beloved animal about to be put down.
—Richard O’Mara, “The Sea"
This issue is packed with reviews, short and long. Sam Pickering alone takes on nine books! Casey Clabough (recently featured in the Oxford American) delivers an omnibus review of recent books on Southern writers. Nancy Revelle Johnson, our expert in memoir, gives a brief review of Motherhood Exaggerated, Kevin Gardner revisits L. P. Hartley's novel The Go-Between, and George Core reviews Colum McCann's new book Transatlantic.
Writers revise and shape; and to praise the page for its freedom and spontaneity, not its appearance of freedom and spontaneity, is naïve, and maybe wistful.
—Sam Pickering, review of Essayists on the Essay:
Montaigne to Our Time
A whole crowd of poets joins us in this issue—J. F. R. Day, Stephen Behrendt, Michael Mott, William Virgil Davis, Grace Schulman, George Keithley, and David Havird. And just in time for Thanksgiving we have a story about horseracing, high-stakes betting, and a functioning dysfunctional family by Andrew Plattner.