I'm realizing I must not read a whole lot of essays. Does Mike Royko count? Molly Ivins? Or are they merely "columnists"?
When I saw this list, I thought about the best essays I've read. The one that jumped to mind first was Floyd Skloot's "Gray Area: Thinking With A Damaged Brain." It's available here: http://www.lostmag.com/issue3/grayarea.php
I just finished reading "The Fourth State of Matter." Wow - that was powerful, and beautiful writing.
I'd add in Harlan Ellison's "Xenogeneis," about the strange nature of fandom that skips over to strangeness and attacking what you claim to love. Applies to all fandoms, whether TV or movies or sports. Collected in "Over The Edge."
Agreed -- that was just astonishing.
Ooh, thanks for this!The two that came to mind for me were Paul Graham's Why Nerds are Unpopular (http://www.paulgraham.com/nerds.html) and LaToya Peterson's "The Not-Rape Epidemic" (http://www.racialicious.com/2008/12/21/original-essay-the-not-rape-epidemic/).
Someone gave me The Boys of My Youth years ago and while I enjoyed the other essays, The Fourth State of Matter is by far the best of the bunch. I must have read it four or five times over the years and it never fails to bring me to tears each time.