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Paul Crenshaw’s essay to appear in ‘Best American Essays 2016’

An essay by Paul Crenshaw, assistant professor of English, was picked as one of the top essays featured in magazines, journals and websites this year.

An essay written by Paul Crenshaw, assistant professor of English, was selected to appear in “Best American Essays 2016.”

Crenshaw’s essay titled “Names,” which is about the often-derogatory names that Crenshaw and his fellow soldiers called each other in basic training in the summer of 1990, was first published inl in November 2015.

“Our bravado and lewd name-calling came from fear—of the training we underwent each day, of the drill sergeants in their mirrored sunglasses, of the future—and I wanted to capture that,” Crenshaw said. “What seemed only boys acting their age—18—was really a smoke-screen to hide our fears, make ourselves seem stronger than we were. So it’s also about how language can be a screen to hide behind as well.”

Robert Atwan, series editor of the “The Best American Essays” since its inception in 1986, combs through hundreds of magazines, journals and websites to narrow the field. This year’s guest editor, the award-winning and best-selling author Jonathan Franzen, selected Crenshaw’s work from the 100 or so essays that made Atwan’s cut. The final 15 to 20 will be published in the book, which is expected to be released in October, and the others will be listed on the back cover as “Notables.”

Crenshaw’s work has been included in “The Best American Essays” in the past. His essays “Storm Country” and “After the Ice” were featured in the 2005 and 2011 anthologies, respectively.

“Taste in literature is always subjective, and there are thousands of essays published every year,” 

Crenshaw said. “But it’s an honor to be included among the best essays/essayists in the country, so it’s something I hope for every year.”

Crenshaw has worked at Elon since 2003. He has a Bachelor of Fine Arts in creative writing from Arkansas Tech University and a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Crenshaw has had more than 100 short stories and essays published. He also has received several awards for his work.

Roselee Papandrea Taylor,
4/21/2016 11:00 AM