10-second review: The personal essayist often focuses on the past. “A young person still thinks it is possible—there is time enough—to become all things: athlete and aesthete, soldier and pacifist, anchorite and debauchee. Later, knowing one’s fate and accepting the responsibility of that uninnocent knowledge define the perspective of the form. The personal essayist looks back at the choices that were made, the roads not taken…. In literature, noted Gore Vidal, ‘the true confessors have been aware that not only is life mostly failure, but that in one’s failure or pettiness or wrongness exists the living drama of the self.’ The wonder is that the personal essay can make this bitter awareness appetizing and even amusing to the reader.”
The Art of the Personal Essay. Ed. Phillip Lopate.
: Anchor Books. A Division of Random House, Inc. 1995. New York