Epstein to read for International Writers Center March 17-18

Essayist and short-story writer Joseph Epstein will read from his work at 7 p.m. March 17 at the West Campus Conference Center as a part of The Art of the Essay writers series for the International Writers Center in Arts & Sciences.

In addition, Epstein will lead a seminar on the art of the essay at 4 p.m. March 18 in McMillan Café, Room 115 of Old McMillan Hall. The event will include a question-and-answer session.

Joesph Epstein
Joseph Epstein

Epstein is the author of 14 books, including most recently Snobbery: The American Version (2002) and Narcissus Leaves the Pool (1999), a collection of essays.

He also recently completed a small book on envy — part of a series based on the seven deadly sins and to be published by Oxford University Press — as well as a new collection of stories, Fabulous Small Jews, to be published this spring.

Epstein’s essays have appeared in The American Scholar, which he edited from 1975-1997, as well as The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Harper’s, Commentary, Hudson Review, the London Times Literary Supplement and others. He is the editor of The Norton Book of Personal Essays, and in 1993 he edited The Best American Essays.

The Wall Street Journal has observed that Epstein’s “way with the familiar essay … has much in common with that of Messrs. Beerbohm, Liebling, and Mencken. Each piece is exquisitely sustained, moving from point to point with the relaxed economy of a pro.”

Of Narcissus Leaves the Pool, Tom Wolfe noted that “(Epstein) moves so effortlessly from the amusingly personal to the broadly philosophical that it takes a moment before you realize how far out into the intellectual cosmos you’ve been taken … It is refreshing to hear so independent a voice.”

Epstein, speaking of his own work, has said, “I do think that it helps immensely in writing the personal essay to have a clear point of view. And here I would insist that a point of view is very different from a set of sweet or politically correct or incorrect opinion.

“A point of view is a way of looking at the world; and it is, I believe, one’s way of looking at the world that confers what style one has.”

Epstein was born and raised in Chicago’s Rogers Park neighborhood and attended the University of Chicago. He has taught English and creative writing at Northwestern University and is a trustee of the Hudson Institute, a think tank focused on social science issues.

The reading and seminar are free and open to the public. Copies of Epstein’s work will be available for purchase, and a book-signing and reception will follow each program.

For more information, call 935-5576.