Monocycle: Episode 54, Is the Personal Essay Dead?

There was an article that ran in The New Yorker a couple of weeks ago called “The Personal Essay Boom is Over.” In it, writer Jia Tolentino reflected on the genre’s heyday, citing sites that no longer exist, like xoJane and Gawker, as having heralded the uncomfortably intimate or curiously insignificant style of storytelling. The headline alone, of course, scared the shit out of me, given that I don’t think I even know how to have a thought about a third party without somehow bringing it back to me. So much of what I write rides on the events of my life — I wear my guts on my sleeve. I can’t help it. I’m not even sure I want to help it. And when it comes to the writers who are enlisted to represent the Man Repeller ethos, it is my belief the best kind of editorial leader is willing to let her writer explore their identities — to express what’s on their minds within a controlled environment.

This week on Monocycle, our editorial director, Leslie Price and I talk about the personal essay boom. Is it over? Perhaps. What does that mean for properties who thrive on it, who believe their best content is personal? Good content, of course, can’t ever be “over.” So what makes it good? How are we serving it? Are there ways we can do it better? Listen in and share a thought and if you’re curious…

Here are our all-time favorite personal essays:

This episode of Monocycle is edited by Nicholas “Quazzy” Herd. Logo illustration by Kelly Shami. Photo by Mel Finkelstein/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images.

Leandra M. Cohen

Leandra M. Cohen is the founder of Man Repeller.

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