Ryan Mishap's Reviews > Notes from No Man's Land: American Essays

Notes from No Man's Land by Eula Biss
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's review
Jun 24, 11

bookshelves: personal-writing, race-anti-racist

There are writers who have adventures, then sit down to write the stories, incorporating the research they did before and after their actions. Most writers aren't of this type, no, they are observers, people who notice life flowing around them, details they fold into their thoughts like salt into dough. Biss is this kind of writer, the detached observer who wants to be a part but can't find a way and then decides she doesn't really want to be a part of all that anyway.

Essay writing has been replaced by the quick-shot of the blog, mostly, and truly only exist in magazines anymore. That's one reason it was nice to have this collection. One of the others is that it is rare for writers, especially white writers, to take on whiteness, racism, history in a personal and honest way. Recommended for that.

"But I believe it is important for white folks to find ways to signal that we cannot necessarily be trusted to act like white folks...."

"I have been taught, and I have learned well, I realize now, to think of myself as distinctly different from other white folks--more educated, more articulate, less crude. But in Mexico these distinctions became as meaningless to me as they should have always been."

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