The Strop is a place to whet your appetite for damn good stories. Check back every Friday for our latest recommendations.
1. “The Art of Dying,” Peter Schjeldah
It feels ridiculous to think that an essay in The New Yorker deserves even more attention, but Peter Schjeldah’s “The Art of Dying” braids the history of the author’s life and the circumstances of his dying so skillfully that all Dying People, especially those of us with artistic impulses, can benefit from its content and craft. Schjeldahl’s musings on life and art and death offer the reader something like courage — the courage to live, to blunder and to write. The courage to “take death for a walk in your mind,” and an example of how to do so gracefully, artfully. – Josh Olivier
2. “Going Hungry at the Most Prestigious MFA in America,” Katie Prout
Prout’s essay digs deep into what it means to be an artist in a space where she should be able to devote herself entirely to her craft, but the realities of living split her into two: the writer, and the person trying to make ends meet. Every time she visits her local food bank, she is confronted with this duality. “Hemingway said both he and Pound agreed that the best way to be a writer is to live poorly and simply and work as little as possible on anything that isn’t writing itself,” she writes, but who can do that without sacrificing more than what they have? The essay is a moving, vulnerable revelation of what it’s like to be caught in-between, when you’re in the thick of trying to make your vision happen — and even though the hard part is temporary, it feels forever when you’re hungry. – Rebecca Paredes