I love short-format writing. Perfect for subway rides and other passive commuting. Ideal for the short bit between consciousness and sleep. Superb for doctors offices and all the other places you wait for things you planned to happen. But it simply never occurred to me that someone out there would create a blog aggregator of fine, short writing. Until I found it. I give you The Essayist.
On the first page today (mind you, the addition of new material is satisfyingly constant), you will find Hunter S. Thompson’s wonderful piece about the Kentucky Derby. It is marvellously great, including such bits as:
It’s a fantastic scene — thousands of people fainting, crying, copulating, trampling each other and fighting with broken whiskey bottles.
Thompson is there with his just-met but then constant companion, illustrator Ralph Steadman. At one point in the story, Thompson is addressing his concern that Steadman hasn’t yet made a sketch that captures what he calls the “whiskey gentry;” which is:
a pretentious mix of booze, failed dreams and a terminal identity crisis; the inevitable result of too much inbreeding in a closed and ignorant culture. One of the key genetic rules in breeding dogs, horses or any other kind of thoroughbred is that close inbreeding tends to magnify the weak points in a bloodline as well as the strong points. In horse breeding, for instance, there is a definite risk in breeding two fast horses who are both a little crazy. The offspring will likely be very fast and also very crazy. So the trick in breeding thoroughbreds is to retain the good traits and filter out the bad. But the breeding of humans is not so wisely supervised, particularly in a narrow Southern society where the closest kind of inbreeding is not only stylish and acceptable, but far more convenient–to the parents–than setting their offspring free to find their own mates, for their own reasons and in their own ways. (“Goddam, did you hear about Smitty’s daughter? She went crazy in Boston last week and married a nigger!”)
David Foster Wallace’s absolutely DIVINE essay about his time on a cruise ship is just further down the page. I’m in love.