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A Year and a Day: An Experiment in Essays (Paperback)

A Year and a Day: An Experiment in Essays By Phillip Lopate Cover Image
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A compelling celebration of the power of the essay, this collection of 47 writings offers a glimpse into the mind of a modern-day Montaigne as he reflects on the miscellany of daily life—movies and art, friends and family—over the course of a single year.

The essay is the most pluckily pedestrian and blithely transgressive of literary genres, the one that is most at large and in need, picking through the accumulated disjecta of daily life and personal and social history to take what it needs and remake it as it sees fit. It is, at its lively best, quite indifferent to the claims of style, fashion, theory, and respectability, provoking and inspiring through the pleasure of surprise. In 2016, Philip Lopate, who has been writing essays and thinking about the essay for decades now, turned his attention to one of the essay's offshoots, the blog, a form by that time already thick, as he knew, with virtual dust. Lopate committed to writing a weekly blog about, really, whatever over the course of a year, a quicker pace of delivery than he'd ever undertaken and one that carried the risk of all too regularly falling short. What emerged was A Year and a Day, a collection of forty-seven essays best characterized as a single essay a year in the making, a virtuosic (if never showy) demonstration of the essay's range and reach, meandering, looping back, pressing reset, forging on. Lopate's topics along the way include family, James Baldwin, a trip to China, Agnes Martin, Abbas Kiarostami, the resistible rise of Donald Trump, death, desire, and the tribulations, small and large, of daily life. What results is at once a self-portrait, a picture of the times, and a splendid new elaboration of what the essay can be.

About the Author

Phillip Lopate is the author of the essay collections Against Joie de Vivre, Bachelorhood, Being with Children, Portrait of My Body, and Totally, Tenderly, Tragically; and of the novels The Rug Merchant and Confessions of a Summer. He has edited the anthologies The Art of the Personal Essay, The Glorious American Essay, The Golden Age of the American Essay, and The Contemporary American Essay. His most recent books are Portrait Inside My Head, To Show and to Tell, and A Mother’s Tale.

Praise For…

“While a year of blog posts might not seem like an impressive feat, the profound and impactful series written and published by Phillip Lopate reinvents the genre of nonfiction and the perception of a blog... his piece is a profoundly moving depiction of a life well-lived—it is the story of age, experience, curiosity, intelligence, and a man aware of his flaws.” —Emerson L. Giese, Harvard Crimson 
“He introduces you to totally different time periods, worlds, depths of knowledge. He hasn’t read five Montaigne essays, he’s read them all. . . . Most writers are melancholic. He’s joyful, with infectious energy. . . . There’s no replacement for Phillip Lopate.” —Rivka Galchen, Tablet

“The pieces are timely, but not dated. . . . There are tributes to famous friends. . . . There are also essays about travel, dating, married life, vacation, his lifelong obsession with film, and his late-life obsession with Montaigne. During his year as a blogger, Lopate may have had in mind Flaubert’s dream of a book about nothing. A critic’s life was lived instead.” —Booklist

“I found Phillip’s blog and began reading. I couldn’t stop. The essay in [Lopate’s] tradition is tentative, skeptical, digressive, and, above all, conversational. It goes some place without knowing where it is going to go. It revises itself. It is one person speaking to another, a late-night talk where ideas are tried out.” —Ned Stuckey-French, The Woven Tale Press

“Lopate has long been established as an exemplar of the personal essay as well as a critic, poet, and, occasionally, fiction writer. In 2016, he took on a less formal task, producing a weekly blog for the American Scholar. The resulting collection of these posts, penned with a generally light touch, affords Lopate greater freedom of movement and a wider range of subject matter. . . A master of short-form discourse succeeds with highly individualized and candid observations.” —Kirkus Reviews

Product Details
ISBN: 9781681377780
ISBN-10: 1681377780
Publisher: New York Review Books
Publication Date: October 10th, 2023
Pages: 216
Language: English