Magazine article First Things; A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life

Wind Sprints: Shorter Essays

Magazine article First Things; A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life

Wind Sprints: Shorter Essays

Article excerpt

Wind Sprints: Shorter Essays BY JOSEPH EPSTEIN AXIOS, 608 PAGES, $24

Joseph Epstein has been atop the list of the best American essayists for many years. In the past, his longer essays were written (under the pseudonym Aristides) primarily for the journal he edited, The American Scholar. Many of these are collected in Narcissus Leaves the Pool (1999), A Line Out for a Walk (1992), and Once More Around the Block (1987). Epstein's essays now appear often in the Weekly Standard in a section called "Casual." (Epstein's contributions, along with the work of Andrew Ferguson, make a subscription to that magazine mandatory.) These shorter essays of little more than eight hundred words form almost the entirety of this thoroughly satisfying volume.

Epstein absorbs and delights the reader no matter how much room he has to work with. These essays feature his familiar wit ("The Beats' literary legacy is just below negligible, their politics chiefly about druggery and buggery") and adroitness with language ("Solipsistic Bores suffer- or, more likely, they enjoy-the Copernican Complex: They believe that the solar system rotates around them. Lucky fellows, self-love in them never goes unrequited"). …

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