ON LOVE/HATE RELATIONSHIPS:
"When I come to a book, I want very badly to love it deeply, to find myself enthralled and enraptured by it, to have new avenues of intimacy and perception opened within my mind, to come away ecstatic and electrified. If this is not possible, the next thing I want is to really fucking hate it, to be able to cast the book down in disgust and point at it with a baleful, imperious finger as I declaim that this shit right here is exactly what is wrong with essays/art/the academy/the world/etc etc etc. The Best American Essays 1997, edited by humorist Ian Frazier, denies me both of these experiences."
"...[I]t was difficult not to think of this collection as The Fourth State of Matter & Other Essays rather than as The Best American Essays of 1997."
ON ESSAYING VS. THE ESSAY:
"This is, I think, what we mean when we talk about essay-as-a-verb, when we talk about the mind of the author being consubstantial with the text (or however that damned Montaigne quote goes), what Ian Frazier meant in the introduction, when he talked about “the voice unspooling in the essay’s present time”. Those of us who write essays unspool ourselves in this weird, intimate, idiosyncratic sphere, and the best essays from BAE 97 tended to be the ones who directly owned up to that."