Best Essayist 21st Century

Best Essayist 21st Century-25
May I suggest that you knock your head against the wall.It’ll take your mind off your boredom.” He was a bit of a hellion as an adolescent, riding around Chicago with his pals, visiting brothels.Little yellow bulbs illuminated the aisles, and the air was suffused with the smell of old paper and leather.

May I suggest that you knock your head against the wall.It’ll take your mind off your boredom.” He was a bit of a hellion as an adolescent, riding around Chicago with his pals, visiting brothels.Little yellow bulbs illuminated the aisles, and the air was suffused with the smell of old paper and leather.

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But much like poet Henry David Thoreau, who remarked how he had “travelled a good deal in Concord,” I also explored a few little-known local sites.

These visits became feature stories about places rich in literary history, such as Savannah, Georgia, Oxford, Mississippi, and New Orleans.

Of especial interest are Epstein’s eyebrow-raising revelations about his personal past.

Though recently castigated for a piece in which he mourned the demise of the “WASPocracy” in American life (not included in this collection), Epstein led a youth that was about as far from that world as can be imagined.

Well into the wee hours, I stumbled downstairs and stretched out on an overstuffed leather couch, with several copies of the to speed me into dreamland.

And it was there that I discovered Joseph Epstein, or Aristides, as was his pen name in those days in that publication.

They are divided into thematic chapters on memoir, culture, the arts, education, language, magazines, and intellectuals.

Within these categories, the selections span an interesting array of subjects—old age, stand-up comics, contemporary poetry, intellectual freedom, the , the liberal arts, Walter Cronkite.

It is therefore with great pleasure that I note Epstein’s latest book, .

As one would guess from such sources, Epstein is culturally conservative, but happily not a scold.

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