The Moral Essay: Purpura’s “On Being a Trucker”

October 29, 2010 § Leave a comment

A grateful tip of the hat to The Missouri Review blog’s Robert Long Foreman for singling out Lia Purpura’s recent Brevity essay, On Being a Trucker, in his blog post examining the essay, and the moral essay in particular.  Here’s an excerpt of his discussion, but read Foreman’s full entry, it is well worth it:

To demonstrate the virtues of creative nonfiction – and of the essay in particular – I turned to Lia Purpura’s “On Being a Trucker.” It begins with speculation as to the language used by truckers to describe their cargoes, and then follows a quick series of associations to reach a conclusion that is utterly astonishing, given the sweep of its implications, its apparent distance from the opening lines, and the celerity with which its author leads us to them.

… Purpura’s essay is like a precisely landed punch to the chest, and it makes plain several of the things I value in the essay, or in creative nonfiction generally. One is obvious: Purpura’s relationship to her reader is a rather unique one, one by which she may offer her simulated train of thought in a more or less straightforward fashion, directly from writer to reader. The essay as a genre is also known, I explained to my very small audience, for precisely the sort of movements Purpura makes, as an essay follows a series of unlikely associations, often to their equally unlikely conclusion. Not only does the piece demonstrate – and very briefly – the virtues of the essay; it is simply a great piece of writing.

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