As an avid follower of McSweeney’s, I was thrilled to see what I believe is their first essay included in a volume of The Best American Essays, Christy Vannoy’s “A Personal Essay by a Personal Essay.” But I also found it interesting that this piece seems to be directly satirizing many of the other essays in the volume. To wit:
I recently enrolled in a clinic led by the Article’s Director for a national women’s magazine. Technically, we were there to workshop and polish ourselves into submission. Secretly, though, we each hoped to out-devastate the other and nail ourselves a freelance contract.
The entire essay is a first-person account of an essay as it tries to one-up other essays, and a sometimes thoughtful, sometime hilarious indictment of us readers’ desire to see the first-person writers bare themselves and their suffering openly on the page. I actually read this right after reading Rachel Riederer’s excellent “Patient,” an intense present-tense account of getting hit by a bus and spending roughly two months in the hospital, and thought, I hope these two never meet each other.
My questions, I guess, are, Does the essay work? and Did Danticat select it as an editorial wink at many of her other choices?
What do you think? And at three pages this is the shortest essay in the collection, so if you haven’t read it already it seriously will only take you 5-10 minutes. (OK, I’ll make it even easier, you. Here’s the link.)