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September 28, 2009


Adam R

I generally dislike it, I think. It seems like an admission of defeat -- that the only people who read are writers. I mean, it might be the case that non-writers are really interested in the writing process or whatever, but I agree with you that so many essays about it in one book is overmuch.

russell e

i care.

first of all, i got a prob. with mary oliver. she wrote like 5 good poems and then published them 1000 times. secondly, i got another prob. and that's with these essays you mention. i've always disliked writing about writing because it makes the subject writing instead of about a million other way more interesting things. i think if writers had to work as hard on writing as, say, sculptors, then we wouldn't have all this meta-business. for instance, you don't often see a marble sculpture of a person creating a marble sculpture. because it's too hard to sculpt (i would think, i don't know, i've never sculpted) and the product would be painfully self-referential.

i don't know that it's an admission of defeat as much as it is the writer not knowing how to even chance defeat. nonfiction is already plagued with naval-gazers. my position is that writing should be used as a tool to get at other subjects. if you're using a tool to get at a tool, well, then you are a, uh, you get the idea.

not to say that writing about writing can't ultimately get at a worthy subject (disclaimer).

thirdly, my last problem is that i believe i may have (but most definitely did) sent you a questionable drunk email. i meant everything i said (whatever it may have been).


(fourthly, that magic essay in hobart was great)

Essay reader

I'm not trying to stick up for anybody or anything, but just thought I'd clarify that just because an essay is "Notable" doesn't mean it's among the essays the guest editor read for the book. Robert Atwan describes the process in his Foreword. So Mary may or not have ever seen the "Magic" essay...


This year's collection was lame. I don't have a copy in front of me, but I feel like there was at least another one or two essays that directly reference writing. The book was a huge disappointment after last year's, which was totally bad ass. (As mentioned already, I don't think the typical HOBART reader shares Mary Oliver's aesthetic).

The Notable Essay list is way more exciting than the actual collection, at least this year.

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