Rumors of the essay’s death are greatly exaggerated, exclaims Parul Sehgal with the New York Times:
The essay doesn’t die. It’s too protean. It only grows more indispensable as it learns to mimic, then amplify, our senses. The essay is a way of seeing through language, and in language. It grasps and sifts — recall its cognate “assay,” the distinguishing of base metals and gold. And if we like our art forms promiscuous and free, it obliges. Joan Didion turned it on to doubt in the 1970s, admitting in her collection “The White Album” that writing about her experience “has not yet helped me see what it means,” and an already supple form became even more elastic. The “lavender-scented little old lady of literature” has loosened her stays.