David Gessner

Montaigne in the Age of Trump

1. Awakening My neighbor across the marsh keeps on hammering. There is a new president this morning, my daughter can’t stop crying, and still my neighbor hammers on. It is possible this is celebratory hammering.…

Letter to an Apprentice

I am writing to you at the beginning of something. As one who has been through many beginnings, some more successful than others, I can confirm something you may be starting to suspect: there is nothing harder than beginning. The…

Largeness and Light

I have lived in North Carolina for thirteen years. I know because my daughter is thirteen now and was only three months old when we moved here. A handy mnemonic device. I teach at a public university in this recently…

The Death of the Shack

I am sitting in my writing shack waiting for the storm. Hurricane Matthew has already crashed into Florida, flooded Savannah, and broken through the sea walls of Charleston—and Wilmington is its next stop.

Essay  – 

Introduction to “Becoming Earth”

“This is the best thing about Facebook,” I wrote on Eva Saulitis’s page last fall, a few months before she died. And it was. I only met Eva twice and only had one substantial conversation with her, at a hotel…

Losing the House

The house is like a novel. For many years I called it “my father’s house,” but that was wrong. It is my mother’s house, and it has always been. It is my mother’s novel. It is my mother’s house,

A Quiet Lie of Nature Writing

That morning, fog had chopped off the tops of the mountains, and then the afternoon rain, spiced with hail, hammered the roof of our house. But near dusk, sun slanted down through the openings between the foothills, and I decided…

Mapping the Country

Wallace Stegner believed that writing from and about the American West was ignored, and as he became known throughout his home region, he chafed against being considered regional—when considered at all—by the East. I remember watching a television interview with…