818. Books on American miscellaneous writings
Carol Brightman Writing Dangerously: Mary McCarthy and Her World, 1992.
Twentieth-century intellectual Mary McCarthy was an influential activist and writer known for her social and political commentary and criticism. Her many ties to other influential thinkers make her story a history of her era and her life.
Brendan Gill Here at the New Yorker, 1975.
After writing for the New Yorker for over six decades, Brendan Gill relates his associations with some of its most famous personalities, including Harold Ross, James Thurber, E.B. White, Lewis Mumford, and many others, from an insider’s perspective.
Janet Campbell Hale Bloodlines: Odyssey of a Native Daughter, 1993.
Native American writer Janet Campbell Hale shares autobiographical essays about her experiences as a member of the Coeur d’Alene tribe.
Walker Percy Lost in the Cosmos: The Last Self-Help Book, 1983.
Walker Percy was a profoundly religious man who wrote of alienation in modern life. This book offers his take on the self-help genre with a humorous examination of our tendencies toward abstract thinking.
Jon Stewart and the writers of the Daily Show America (The Book): A Citizen’s Guide to Democracy Inaction, 2004.
American comedian Jon Steward collaborates with his fellow writers for The Daily Show to bring us explanations of the United States government and its history. In satirical style, they explain not only how the system is supposed to work or how people think it works, but instead, how it does work in reality.
Studs Turkel, ed. “The Good War”: An Oral History of World War II, 1984.
Forty years after World War II ended, American historian and author Studs Turkel interviewed former soldiers of every race and the women who ran the U.S. economy while they were gone. Even though the war claimed around 400,000 lives and the suffering was great, the overall perspective of these survivors was that it was a culture-shaping event that, in many ways, made America stronger.
Mark Twain Roughing It, 1872.
Mark Twain wrote this witty account of his and his brother’s travels around the American West in the mid-19th century. As they made their way from town to town, Twain worked as a gold prospector, reporter, and lecturer.
Gene Weingarten The Fiddler in the Subway: The Story of the World-Class Violinist Who Played for Handouts—And Other Virtuoso Performances by America’s Foremost Feature Writer, 2010.
In one of these essays, Gene Weingarten writes of a stunt in which imminent violinist Joshua Bell performed for free on the streets of Washington, D.C., accepting only change. No one even noticed. What does that say about us? He looks at topics as diverse as the typical non-voter, and he searches for the official “Armpit of America.”
Ernest Hemingway A Moveable Feast, 1964.
Ernest Hemingway wrote this memoir only a few years before his death. It’s an affectionate look at his early days as a writer in 1920s Paris, where he spent his time with literary luminaries like F. Scott Fitzgerald and James Joyce.
Laura Dassow Walls Henry David Thoreau: A Life, 2017.
Henry David Thoreau was an abolitionist and early environmentalist, best known for his writings about his time on Walden Pond. Laura Walls sought to capture Thoreau’s essence from his early years in Concord to his death at 44 in 1862.
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