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In Praise of Nothing: Essays, Memoir, and Experiments
     

In Praise of Nothing: Essays, Memoir, and Experiments

by Eric LeMay
 

Why do we keep playing the lottery when we know we’ll lose? How does what we laugh at—those bad jokes, wry allusions, and nasty pratfalls—tell us who we are? And what happens when, through some unforeseen mishap, we lose our identities and become Jane or John Doe? Eric LeMay explores these and other questions in fifteen innovative essays that center

Overview

Why do we keep playing the lottery when we know we’ll lose? How does what we laugh at—those bad jokes, wry allusions, and nasty pratfalls—tell us who we are? And what happens when, through some unforeseen mishap, we lose our identities and become Jane or John Doe? Eric LeMay explores these and other questions in fifteen innovative essays that center on the American self. From reflections on small-town life and baby-making to meditations on found art, 19th century landscape gardens, webcams, and the emergence of the AIDS pandemic, these essays celebrate the layered selves we inhabit, inherent, and sometimes invent. With humor and with reverence, In Praise of Nothing beholds what Wallace Stevens has called the “nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.”

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
In Praise of Nothing is jammed with profound, yet effortless-seeming micro-pieces to be read and reread. If you hated writing essays in school, picking up this brutally-honest, heart-wrenching, and new-neural-pathway-forming book might just inspire you to try your hand at some nonfiction, start a blog, or at the very least, you’ll step away enlightened, refreshed, and entertained. LeMay’s work is as original and distinctive as a sort of Walter Benjamin for our digital ADD age of alternate social media realities.”

—Nicholaus Patnaude, author of First Aide Medicine, and judge of the Emergency Press International Book Award

"Eric LeMay’s In Praise of Nothing is by turns wry, wise, elegant, snazzy, smart, and tender. His essays are filled with clear-eyed intelligence and consistently surprise us in both form and content. We have found our digital Montaigne."

—Dinty W. Moore, author of Between Panic and Desire

“What an adventure it is to read this collection by Eric LeMay! In Praise of Nothing is something, a smorgasbord of subjects and forms. LeMay unpacks and explores subjects as various as John and Jane Doe, lotteries, the suffix “–ize,” and a production of Hamlet at Ground Zero. Audaciously, amazingly, and successfully, he rewrites E. B. White’s 'Once More to the Lake' and Bacon’s 'Of Studies.' This book is a feast."

—Ned Stuckey-French, author of The American Essay in the American Century

“Eric LeMay writes of his Ohio upbringing—watching Boy George on TV, mythologizing Patient Zero during the AIDS pandemic, receiving (and rebelling against) communiqués from his father via Post-Its—with a rare and welcome quietude. Nothing in this book feels amped-up or overblown. I love it.”

—John Bresland, author of Zero Station and Other Essays

“A lively collection of pensées, LeMay’s In Praise of Nothing is a charming investigation of memory, humor, serendipity, and the existential problem of ‘being me’.”

—Christina Thompson, author of Come on Shore and We Will Kill and Eat You All

“The erudite essays in In Praise of Nothing are force multipliers, propelling the Zen meditation to Zeno’s paradox. Always null but, no, not dull, the book is never nothing but whole, the complete Enso. It effortlessly records and enacts Pascal’s infinite and noisy silence between the stars.”

—Michael Martone, author of Michael Martone and Four for a Quarter

Praise for Immortal Milk

"Eric LeMay's Immortal Milk does for cheese all that ought to be done for cheese: it takes something micro, the history of milk gone bad, and turns it into something macro, the story of how the way we eat becomes the way we live."

—Adam Gopnik, author of Paris to the Moon

"The next best thing to tasting the cheese itself...a warm, even gooey, appreciation of a much-loved and often misunderstood food."

Publisher's Weekly

"Clearly, this is someone who not only celebrates cheese, but also the written word, which is what makes Immortal Milk such a great read."

—Domenica Marchetti, The Washington Post

"Memorable...bouncing between travelog and poetry, history and buying guide...LeMay is an engaging writer.... This will appeal to readers with high literary sensibilities looking for an erudite intro to the appreciation of cheese."

Library Journal

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780988569478
Publisher:
Emergency Press
Publication date:
04/22/2014
Pages:
256
Product dimensions:
5.30(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.70(d)

Meet the Author

Eric LeMay is the author of Immortal Milk: Adventures in Cheese. He has taught writing at Harvard, Columbia, and the University of Chicago, and is currently on the faculty of the writing program at Ohio University. He serves as an associate editor for the New Ohio Review and the web editor for Alimentum: The Literature of Food. He is also a host on the New Books Network. LeMay’s work has also appeared in The Paris Review, Gastronomica, Poetry Daily, the Best Food Writing series, and other venues. He lives in Athens, OH.

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