Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Joseph Mitchell's Ear for New York

Essays should be personal, but what makes an essay personal is actually up for grabs.  Sometimes it is the subject matter itself, which is the case in most "personal essays," where the author recounts in meaningful detail, an encounter or series of events that changed their life.  For other writers, like Joan Didion or Luc Sante, it comes from their profound focus, which leaves readers feeling as if we have literally viewed the world through their eyes.  But then there are writers like Joseph Mitchell, who devote themselves to telling other people's experience.  Rather than projecting themselves onto the page, they seem to act as the conduit that another's experience passes through in order to reach the page.  And yet...one could argue, that just as with Didion and her crowd, remarkable writers like Joseph Mitchell are directing us in a most personal way through the characters they choose to introduce to the world.

Mitchell, therefore, makes a perfect companion to the other essayists included in my online essay course, starting January 13th.  For more on his work, including links, check out this recent New Yorker appreciation: "Joseph Mitchell's Ear for New York."

For more information on my course, and a $25 discount, email ken@kenfosterbooks.com

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