Thursday, June 07, 2007

The Familiar Essay

Yesterday evening, as I was driving from the oncologist's to the southwestern grill, NPR's All Things Considered had an interview with Anne Fadiman. Fadiman has written a collection (which I have not read) of familiar essays.

For Fadiman, the familiar essay is a species of the personal essay. The personal essay is about oneself, she says; the familiar essay is about oneself and the world, especially some aspect of the world with which one is (you probably saw it coming) familiar.

This doesn't mean that the reader needs to be familiar with the subject. The familiar essay is free to deal with any bizarre bit of esoterica as long as it's one that the writer feels at home in. So Esperanto or Yeats's use of Berkeley's philosophy would be fair game for a familiar essay.

The familiar essay is my ideal for blogging. A little bit of me, but not autobiography; a little bit of something interesting, but no formal lecturing. The thought and the thinker should both be of interest to the reader. Who can tell the dancer from the dance?


la petite bĂȘte... said...


famulus_veritatis said...

"as I was driving from the oncologist's to the Southwestern Grill..."

Now that is a marvelous conceptual pairing in what seems to be merely an introductory adverbial clause, but which tells a story in itself.

faithsalutes said...

works for me tiny dancer.