Patrick MaddenMar 12, 2021
U of Nebraska Press 2020
Today I interview Patrick Madden, an essayist.
Now, for most of us, an essay—that thing we were assigned to write in high school or maybe that thing we stayed up all night writing in college—doesn't immediately evoke feelings of joy and excitement or associations of pleasure and profundity.
No, an essay isn't something we usually chose to do. And we can take that view of the essay even further. I'm guessing most of us didn't grow up hoping to be an essayist. In fact, we might be surprised to recall that such an identity actually exists.
When, after all, is the last time you met an essayist, if you ever have? Well, I'm happy to say that, if you haven't, today is the day, and I couldn't think of a better essayist to dispel any wizened views of the essay that you or I might hold than Madden.
His new book Disparates: Essays (University of Nebraska Press, 2020) is full of delights and surprises and goofy jokes and riffs on rock lyrics and doodles and, just as often, moving insights on how all of these things are intrinsic to what makes us human. And in the spirit of Madden's essays, this interview also has a surprise guest, one who's intelligence and good humor has made this conversation a high for me in nearly a decade of conversations for the New Books Network.
Eric LeMay is on the creative writing faculty at Ohio University. He is the author of five books, most recently Remember Me. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.