This unique writing guide pairs questions sent in by famous contemporary essayists with advice-column-style responses and hilariously witty example essays from acclaimed author and professor Dinty W. Moore.
Dear Mister Essay Writer Guy, I have a hot crush on the em dash. What does my need to stuff--while simultaneously fracturing--my sentences--with the meandering, the explanatory, the discursive, the perhaps not-entirely-necessary--say about me? --Cheryl Strayed Have you ever wished there were an advice columnist for writers, but one who didn't take things so damned seriously? This unique writing guide pairs questions sent in by top contemporary essayists with hilariously witty answers and essays from acclaimed author Dinty W. Moore. Phillip Lopate asks for advice on writing about your ex without sounding like an ass, Julianna Baggott worries that to be a great writer you must drink like a fish, and Roxane Gay asks whether it's kosher to write about writing.
Taking advantage of all the tools available to today's personal essayist--egregious puns, embarrassing anecdotes, and cocktail napkins--Professor Moore answers these questions, and more, demystifying the world of nonfiction once and for all. With a tip of the hat to history's most infamous essay--Montaigne's "Of Cannibals"--this book provides rollicking relief for writers in distress.
Dinty W. Moore has worked as a documentary filmmaker, professional modern dancer, wire-service journalist, and college creative writing professor. He has published fiction and poetry in numerous national literary magazines and is the author of another book of nonfiction, "The Emperor's Virtual Clothes: The Naked Truth About Internet Culture". He lives with his wife and daughter in State College, Pennsylvania.
introduction 1 A Question from Phillip Lopate & "Of Old Girlfriends" 4 A Question from Cheryl Strayed & "Dash It All" 14 A Question from Julianna Baggott & "The Napkin Is the Message" 22 A Question from Judith Kitchen & "A Striped Essay" 44 A Question from Barrie Jean Borich & "Mr. Plimpton's Revenge" 56 A Question from Lia Purpura & "Understanding Your Cauliflower" 70 A Question from Sue William Silverman & "How Tasty Was My Little Frenchman" 78 A Question from B.J. Hollars & "Have You Learned Your Lesson, Amigo ?" 86 A Question from Diane Ackerman & "Of Bums" 100 A Question from Dinah Lenney & "Pulling Teeth, or Twenty Reasons Why My Daughter's Turning Twenty Can't Come Soon Enough" 106 A Question from Philip Graham & "How to Choose an Appropriate Essay Topic" 116 A Question from Michael Martone & "Four Essential Tips for Telling the Truth in Memoir and Securing That Blockbuster Book Deal" 120 A Question from Patrick Madden & "The Actual Message Mike the Tree Guy Left on My Answering Machine the Evening I Arrived Home to Find that the Tree He Was Cutting Down When I Left for Work That Morning Still Stood Tall in My Side Yard" 136 A Question from Steve Almond & "An Essay on the Inherent Dangers of Memoir Writing" 140 A Question from Ander Monson & "Nelson Algren's Shorts" 144 A Question from Brenda Miller & "Why I Trained My Dog to Post" 154 A Question from David Shields & "Beep! Beep!" 168 A Question from Roxane Gay & "Don't Read This Essay" 174 A Question from Brian Doyle & "Clogged and Stupid and Weary" 182 A Question from Lee Gutkind 186 acknowledgments 191 about the author 193 index 195
." -. . a guide to writing essays that is both brilliantly instructive and wonderfully entertaining. -. . . Highly recommended for writers and anyone who loves to laugh out loud while they read." -- Library Journal (starred review) "[Moore's] witty and disarming new book is framed as an advice column for accomplished writers. . . He is fun to read (don't miss Mr Plimpton's Revenge: A Google Maps Essay, in Which George Plimpton Delivers My Belated and Well-Deserved Comeuppance). And he sneaks in answers so we are left with a touch of wisdom as well as laughter." -- BBC.com
"Dear Mister Essay Writer Guy is Moore at his best. It's witty but also substantial, and the conversations between Moore and his interlocutors get to the heart of what makes the essay such a compelling form: its capacity to render, on the page, the human experience." -- The Rumpus
." . . the book as a whole will leave you feeling educated, amused, and perhaps even inspired." -- The A.V. Club
"Dear Mister Essay Writer Guy is an enjoyable read. . . Its witty, modest tone belies the artistry of the essays contained, which are exemplars of the short form." -- Shelf Awareness