Can’t Touch This: Lopate on the Essay Collection

October 20, 2010 § 4 Comments

The latest issue of River Teeth has a fine essay from Philip Lopate on the health of the essay collection in the current book market. Lopate’s essay, titled “In Defense of the Essay Collection,”  is not available online, so you’ll have to get yourself to a library or order a copy, but it’s well worth the effort.

Here’s where he begins:

“In these uncertain times for the book trade, when the very future of the printed word seems in question, the one thing certain is that no one wants to publish a collection of essays. Your agent would prefer not to have to sell it, your old publishers don’t want to touch it, and even those pretty young editors who smile enticingly around the buffet table and give midlist authors such as yourself their cards don’t want anything to do with it. Perhaps – perhaps – an essay collection with a focus, a hot topic that will get an author on talk shows, yes, that’s conceivable. But a mere compendium of random essays previously published in magazines, forget it.”

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