Endowed in perpetuity by the Glenna Luschei Fund for Excellence

June 2017

A Portrait of the Essayist as a Middle-aged Man: An Interview with Patrick Madden

by Ryan McIlvain

When Patrick Madden speaks of his chosen genre, he often calls it “the essay,” according it the respect of the definite article and the weight of tradition. It’s a long, wide, deep, endlessly variable tradition, though lately it’s been flattened out, rather commandeered (I don’t think I exaggerate Pat’s view) by writers with little real analysis to offer, and less insight. Here was the bender to end all benders . . . How I survived my baroquely awful Wall Street job . . . A year of eating only peaches . . . A year of following all speed limits, on all surfaces, in all weathers. (I hope that last memoir/adventure essay really exists somewhere. The others I’ve skipped or abandoned halfway through.)