ON THE ESSAY AS MORE THAN MEMOIR:
"While short memoir is certainly valuable and arguably the most widely consumed nonfiction dish, the essay was a particular thing created to do more than house narrative. Moreover, because the memoiristic brand of nonfiction has roared loudest in the past few decades, it can handle being put into check so that we don’t forget about what an essay might do that is not, primarily, about a writer’s lived experience."
ON DEATH AND DYING:
"Best American Essays 2015 is a book thinking a lot about the approach of death, or dying and what comes after it. Which makes me think, grumpily: If a highly literate alien culture comes searching for traces of nonfiction from 2015, will they think the essay was a genre so personal that it was where the ego went to process its own self-consumption?
"BAE 2015 makes me think most about how we are very likely a culture leaving behind texts that are “on death” in the way those written in the wake of some of the great dyings-off were. Like the spiritualist novels following the civil war, a time when few bodies came home to prove human loss, our texts are those that will expect and extend a mass mourning. Inevitably now, death must be more visible than it has ever been, though now it’s death in the most abstract. "
ON SUBJECT VS. OBJECT:
"Here, perhaps I’m asking: When did the “me” replace the “I” in the personal essay? Or, what happened to the essay as a place where the capabilities of the essayist’s mind weigh more than the essayist’s life and how they can retell it?"