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Lopate In Defense of the Essay Collection

In issue 12.1 of River Teeth: A Journal of Nonfiction Narrative, Phillip Lopate’s essay “In Defense of the Essay Collection” begins: “In these uncertain times for the book trade,when the very future of the printed word seems in question, the one thing certain is that no one wants to publish a collection of essays. Your agent would prefer not to have to sell it, your old publishers don’t want to touch it, and even those pretty young editors who smile enticingly around the buffet table and give midlist authors such as yourself their cards don’t want anything to do with it. Perhaps – perhaps – an essay collection with a focus, a hot topic that will get an author on talk shows, yes, that’s conceivable. But a mere compendium of random essays previously published in magazines, forget it.”

Despite the humorously dismal beginning, Lopate does indeed go on to defend the essay collection (with further poignant humor) and our true – though often publicly inhibited – desire for the form. Lopate is editor of The Art of the Personal Essay: An Anthology from the Classical Era to the Present.

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