Jan 27, 2006    #015
Contact: Michelle Hopkins or Amy Lucas
816-235-1592 or 816-235-1168

New American Essays Collects the Best Essays of 20 Years

The best essays published in the last two decades in the pages of the international quarterly journal, New Letters, are collected for the first time in one book, New American Essays (304 pages, © 2006, edited by Conger Beasley Jr. and Robert Stewart, published by New Letters Books and BkMk Press; ISBN 1-886157-55-3).

This collection includes writing by some of the biggest names in the modern genre (sometimes called creative nonfiction) as well as some of the best examples of this literary form published in years. Editor Robert Stewart says these attributes have meaning and intention behind them:

“The existence of this collection illustrates how seriously we take our obligation to our readers. While these pieces found an appreciative readership at the time of their original publication, I recently began to feel terrified that our current readers have missed them. I couldn’t stand it. This writing is too vital, powerful, and downright important to slip gently into the archival history of American letters.”

Many of the essays here are personal explorations of family and culture. For instance, Janet Burroway’s essay, “Soldier Son,” is an exploration of her son, Tim, six years before his death by suicide. His death is connected to global concerns of war and terrorism, a theme tangentially running through much of the early pieces in the collection (e.g., “The Trapezoidal Mind” by William H. Gass, discusses Salmon Rushdie and bigotry; “The Silence” by Elmaz Abinader provides a vivid tour of the Middle East.)

The outstanding quality of the writing is all the motivation most literary aficionados will need to pick up a copy, says Stewart, who applauds the imaginative use of language and form, and narrative depth of the pieces selected for New American Essays.

Here is a list of all 20 writers in the issue: Elmaz Abinader, Conger Beasley Jr., Janet Burroway, Judith Ortiz Cofer, Brian Doyle, Gerald Early, William H. Gass, Laurence Gonzales, Linda Hogan, Donn Irving, Thomas E. Kennedy, Debra Marquart, Hilary Masters, James McKinley, Alyce Miller, Kathrin Perutz, Judy Ray, Charles Simic, Lauren Slater, Gail Waldstein.

New Letters quarterly is available by subscription at or by writing to the magazine at 5101 Rockhill Road, University of Missouri-Kansas City, Kansas City, MO 64110. The telephone number is (816) 235-1168, and the e-mail address is Subscription prices are $22 for one year and $36 for two years.

The University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC), one of four University of Missouri campuses, is a public university serving more than 14,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional students. UMKC engages with the community and economy based on a three-part mission: visual and performing arts, health sciences, and urban affairs.

This information is available to people with speech or hearing impairments by calling Relay Missouri at (800) 735-2966 (TT) or (800) 735-2466 (voice).


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