Posts Tagged ‘lists’

Seven Essayists We Wish Were Here Today

 Last week David Carr passed away, leaving behind a legacy of journalism and reporting. Along with Carr, we’ve listed six essayists whose vision and writing informed our lives and guided our thoughts. Their work encouraged us to live with more knowledge, curiosity, and integrity, and their voices are sorely missed in our contemporary moment.

carDavid Carr (1956 – 2015) – A recent New York Times article discusses Carr’s energy and enthusiasm for students, describing him as a “a supreme talent scout” and natural teacher. On the evening he died he moderated a panel on the film Citizenfour, a nod to his interests in pop culture and politics, which he also tackled in his weekly column “The Media Equation.” The Times‘ publisher and chairman Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Jr. said, “David Carr was one of the most gifted journalists who has ever worked at The New York Times.” As many have expressed in recent days, his voice will be missed.

angelou3-sizedMaya Angelou (1928 – 2014) – Maya Angelou was a civil rights activist, director, playwright, actress, poet, author, teacher, and essayist. Her contributions span almost every aspect of the arts, and served as an inspiration to women and African Americans throughout her storied career. Her poem “On the Pulse of Morning” was read at President Bill Clinton’s  inauguration, making her the first poet to do so since Robert Frost for John F. Kennedy in 1961. The much-awarded Angelou was a talent and artist of the highest regard.

Adrienne-RichAdrienne Rich (1929 – 2012) – The Poetry Foundation calls Rich “one of America’s foremost public intellectuals.” Her poems and essays are highly political, and often explore issues of identity and sexuality. The Guardian writes that as a feminist her work helped move “the oppression of women and lesbians to the forefront of poetic discourse.” She declined the National Medal of Arts in 1997 in response to a House of Representatives vote to end the National Endowment for the Arts. Her bravery and voice paved the way for progressive thinking for years to come.

david-rakoff-giDavid Rakoff (1964 – 2012) – Rakoff’s writing has appeared in GQ, The New York Times Magazine, Details, Salon, Slate, Vogue, and Wired, and many others. He was also a contributor for This American Life, working closely with Ira Glass and David Sedaris to produce true stories about real people. The author of three bestselling essay collections, his writing is punctuated by sarcasm and humor and is often autobiographical. He wrote openly about LGBT issues, and is an advocate well known for his wit and candor.

Christopher_Hitchens_crop_2Christopher Hitchens (1949 – 2011) – Hitchens was a prolific writer and critic, with over thirty books including five collections of essays. A divisive figure, Hitchens loved to debate, with views that were as controversial as they were public. His opinions about politics, religion, and literature were well known, as was his support for the Iraq war, and criticism of public figures (Mother Teresa included). In 2009 Forbes listed Hitchens as “25 most influential liberals in the U.S. media” stating also that Hitchens would “likely be aghast to find himself on this list.” Hitchens pushed our culture to examine itself honestly, to value the debate, and live with an open mind.

sontag_130Susan Sontag (1933 – 2004) – If the recent documentary Regarding Susan Sontag is any indication, Sontag is a cultural icon. The New York Review of Books called her “one of the most influential critics of her generation.” She wrote extensively about culture and art, exploring film, photography, fiction, and nonfiction throughout her storied career. As President of the American PEN Center she advocated for freedom of expression and the advancement of literature, constantly pushing herself and her readers to think about the world critically. Her awards include a MacArthur Genius Fellowship, a National Book Award, the Malaparte Prize, and many others.

Anthology Judge Kevin Brockmeier’s Fifty Favorite Short Stories

Submissions for our 2015 anthology are now open! Our guest judge Kevin Brockmeier says he is “looking for the kind of stories that result when a writer combines imaginative daring with dynamic, exact, emotionally suggestive prose.” To give you a better idea of the sorts of stories he admires, here is a list of his fifty favorites. And, if you’re looking for still more inspiration, check out this list of Brockmeier’s  favorite fantasy and science fiction in our May interview.


Little Rock Author Kevin Brockmeier
Several Rules: (1) I have listed these stories in alphabetical order by the author’s last name, rather than in order of preference—though I’ve marked my ten current favorites with an asterisk. (2) I have chosen no more than one story (or in a few cases one novella) per author. (3) I have tried to be honest, which is why there are so many contemporary English-language stories on this list, as well as so many stories by science fiction writers, magic realists, and assorted other fantasists.


—Kevin Brockmeier, August 7, 2014

Fifty Favorite Stories

1. “Tickets on Time (Extracts from the diary of Jules Flegmon)” by Marcel Aymé
2. “The Voices of Time” by J.G. Ballard (*)
3. “Gryphon” by Charles Baxter
4. “The Last Song of Sirit Byar” by Peter S. Beagle
5. “The Accordion Player” by John Berger (*)
6. “Three Versions of Judas” by Jorge Luis Borges
7. “The State of Grace” by Harold Brodkey (*)
8. “Bloodchild” by Octavia Butler
9. “The Time Machine” by Dino Buzzati
10. “The Light-Years” by Italo Calvino (*)
11. “American Dreams” by Peter Carey
12. “Sins and Virtues” by Jim Crace
13. “White Angel” by Michael Cunningham
14. “Pet Milk” by Stuart Dybek
15. “The Prophet from Jupiter” by Tony Earley (*)
16. “The Twenty-seventh Man” by Nathan Englander
17. “Grace” by Paula Fox
18. “From the Fifteenth District” by Mavis Gallant
19. “The Torturer’s Wife” by Thomas Glave (*)
20. “Professor Berkowitz Stands on the Threshold” by Theodora Goss (*)
21. “Two Gentle People” by Graham Greene
22. “Monday” by Mark Helprin
23. “It Didn’t Bother Me” by Jeremy Jackson
24. “Emergency” by Denis Johnson
25. “Blumfeld, an Elderly Bachelor” by Franz Kafka
26. “The Joy and Melancholy Baseball Trivia Quiz” by Ken Kalfus
27. “The Dark Princess” by Richard Kennedy
28. “Bobcat” by Rebecca Lee
29. “Catskin” by Kelly Link
30. “A River Runs Through It” by Norman Maclean
31. “The Boat” by Alistair MacLeod
32. “The Briefcase” by Rebecca Makkai
33. “Man in the Drawer” by Bernard Malamud
34. “Sandkings” by George R. R. Martin
35. “Singular Pleasures” by Harry Mathews
36. “The Thistles in Sweden” by William Maxwell (*)
37. “Twins” by Megan Milks
38. “The Next Thing” by Steven Millhauser
39. “Faith and Mountains” by Augusto Monterroso
40. “A Window” by Haruki Murakami
41. “Sugar Among the Chickens” by Lewis Nordan
42. “Reeling for the Empire” by Karen Russell
43. “Akhnilo” by James Salter
44. “Offloading for Mrs. Schwartz” by George Saunders
45. “The Scalehunter’s Beautiful Daughter” by Lucius Shepard
46. “The Death of Ivan Ilych” by Leo Tolstoy (*)
47. “Extracts from Adam’s Diary and Eve’s Diary” by Mark Twain
48. “Escapes” by Joy Williams (*)
49. “The Dreamed” by Robert McLiam Wilson
50. “The Private Lives of Trees” by Alejandro Zambra