Believer editor Meehan's review of John D'Agata's The Lost Origins of the Essay is in the latest issue of the magazine...but you can't read it online.
But wait—now you can! At Powell's. Here is a taste:
It seems that even as D'Agata throws open the doors to the house of the essay, he closes a window somewhere else. Yet if we carefully consider his project -- to search out origins for nonfiction rooted in art rather than commerce -- his penchant for writing that looks inward doesn't seem to undermine his credibility or his argument. He has gone searching for art. Look here, he says, I have found it. That any such tradition can be traced is his success. Whether this is the essay's only tradition is another argument altogether.
Labels: Meehan Crist