This letter to John D’Agata was first read at AWP and then published in the Brevity Nonfiction Blog on March 8, 2012. You can read the full letter here. The letter begins:
I’m afraid it’s over between us.
You know how important you’ve been to me. I’ve adopted The Next American Essay for classes. I reviewed The Lost Origins of the Essay and sang its praises. Carl Klaus and I have included your 2003 headnote about lyric essays, the one that introduced Jenny Boully to the world, in our new anthology, Essayists on the Essay: Montaigne to Our Time. I admire you, John, but admiration isn’t enough, and now you’ve even undercut some of that admiration. It’s over, John.