: I really like a lot of contemporary essayists, and I think there’s a broad range in what people are doing, and I’m really glad that people are willing to call themselves essayists.Jacob Eckrich, Associate Creative Nonfiction Editor for The Normal School, talks with essayist Patrick Madden about his new collection Sublime Physick, humor, Montaigne, and the activity we call essaying.: One of the things that I noticed about the collection was that you have a really strong emphasis on the Classics.Another key was discovering Scott Russell Sanders, who was doing a bunch of essays in the late 1990s and early 2000s that were just like the old essays: they had a one word titles, like “Beauty,” “Stillness,” “Silence,” “Fidelity,” etc.They were basically the same thing that the great dead had been doing. You can still do that now.” So that’s when I started going full steam ahead trying to write thematic essays.You don’t even have to read my essays to notice this; you can just flip open the book and it looks different from what many other writers are doing, because you just see the block quotes throughout. I get invited to universities or conferences I think in large part because I’m doing something slightly different from a lot of others and people trust that I have, in addition to my own writing, a kind of historical and theoretical knowledge that I can teach from or speak from when I’m talking to students or other writers. I imagine a lot of people who might be reading this interview may have not read the book yet. : Well, first of all, it’s always difficult for me to describe what my books are. This is a gigantic gathering and all sorts of writers are there, from Terry Brooks, who did The Sword of Shannara, and Jared Diamond who did Guns, Germs, and Steel, and Maureen Corrigan, the book reviewer from NPR’s Fresh Air, and there were a lot of mystery writers.So I wanted to give you the opportunity to give a condensed version of your “not official/official” introduction to the book. Anyway, over 100,000 people came through, and there I was. Other essayists or people who are aware of creative nonfiction can get what I’m doing and they can decide whether they want to read it or not, but for the general audience, I find it very difficult to describe.The essays seem to be a bridge of sorts between classical thought and art and contemporary life.So I’m curious as to where this interest and focus on classical humanities came from.I come to the essay wanting to have an intellectual experience as well as an aesthetic or emotional experience.If you read these old essayists, that’s what they’re all about.