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Get Inspired by 7 Famous American Essay Writers

When reading essays written by some of the most talented essay writers throughout history, you will either be overwhelmed by their talent or inspired to work on your essay writing skills from a new angle. The readers have different impressions after reading a brilliant essay, but all of them have one common impression: they finally understand that an essay is not just a boring academic paper written for class.

If you are ready to read few masterpieces written by some of the most famous essay writers, you should start exploring the work of the following authors:

  1. David Foster Wallace
  2. David Foster Wallace

    David Foster Wallace wrote short stories and novels, but he is mostly famous as a brilliant essayist with a distinctive, factually-driven style. His famous essay Consider the Lobster, which was published in the August 2004 issue of Gourmet, generated controversy among the faithful readers of this magazine by imposing a disturbing question: is it ethical to boil a creature that is still alive just to satisfy the customer’s gustatory senses?

    Laughing with Kafka is another essay that’s mandatory to read. Not many people think that Kafka is funny, but Wallace reveals the grotesque and gorgeous comedy behind this author’s confusing novels.

  3. Jo Ann Beard
  4. Jo Ann Beard

    Jo Ann Beard is among the most appreciated American essayists, who show that this genre has a depth that not many authors can achieve. Her creative fiction and nonfiction essays have positioned her as one of the most influential figures in contemporary American literature.

    If you are interested in exploring her work, the best place to start would be The Fourth State of Matter, an emotion-packed piece that tells a disturbing story about a student who killed six people, including himself. Besides being a great read, this piece is also an extraordinary example on form and style that students can use when writing personal history essays.

  5. Edward Hoagland
  6. Edward Hoagland

    Edward Hoagland is an American novelist and essayist, who is mostly famous for his pieces on travel and nature. The lucidity of Hoagland’s style brings the reader close to complex characters, situations, fears, desires, beauty and suffering.

    Heaven and Nature presents the style of Edward Hoagland at its best. Although this is a difficult piece to read, since it elaborates the contemplation of suicide, it is still one of the most valuable analyses of the matter. Edward Hoagland is a genius writer whose style will touch you with its cruel honesty.

  7. Phillip Lopate
  8. Phillip Lopate

    Besides being one of the greatest film critics in America, Phillip Lopate is also an outstanding essay writer, who entertains the reader while provoking them to think about the matter in question. Personal essays lack the tight construction of other types of academic writing, which is why it is difficult to classify them. Lopate’s work serves as a great example of all students who want to master the art of writing first-person essays.

    The best place to start exploring Phillip Lopate’s work is the collection of personal essays named Against Joie de Vivre.

  9. Annie Dillard
  10. Annie Dillard

    This Pulitzer-winning author will change the way you perceive essay writing. An essay is not a rigid form of academic writing that limits you within strict rules and frames; it is a genre that can awaken a great imaginative power that’s unexpectedly underestimated.

    Dillard’s work interweaves the dynamics of personal writing with the powerful artistic impressions of poetry. Teaching a Stone to Talk is a great collection of essays where Annie Dillard explores the essence of human meanings and natural facts.

  11. Joan Didion
  12. Joan Didion

    The writings of Joan Didion explore the cultural chaos and disintegration of the moral principles of humanity. Maybe you will be inundated with a sense of anxiety after reading her essays, but that’s what this author’s worth is all about.

    The White Album is a classic in the genre. The piece examines the trends, figures and events of the 1960s with unhidden judgment about the mass culture of the era.

  13. John McPhee
  14. John McPhee

    Narrative nonfiction is not an easy style to master, but John Angus McPhee discovered the right techniques for creating factually accurate pieces that abound with creativity. McPhee won the Pulitzer Prize four times; and that fact should motivate you to start reading his pieces.

    One of his most popular publications, The Search for Marvin Gardens, explores the historic significance of Atlantic City through a rather unusual factor – the Monopoly game. Although you might get confused by the essay’s topic at first, McPhee’s alluring magnetism will get you hooked with the first sentence.

Discover the art of essay writing through exceptional masterpieces

The best way to finally become the essay writer your professors expect you to be is by exploring techniques of academic writing through the work of brilliant essay writers. Your professors’ suggested readings probably include the work of Ralph Waldo Emerson and George Orwell, but it would be better to start reading less-confusing work of the seven contemporary essay writers listed above.

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