Written from a particular vantage point, one invoked by Thoreau, who wished "to improve the nick of time . . . to stand on the meeting of two eternities, the past and future." At this bewildering convergence, Slouka asks us to consider what it means to be human and what we must revive, or reject, in order to retain our humanity in the modern world.
Collected over fifteen years, these essays include fascinating explorations of the relationship between memory and history and the nature of "tragedy" in a media-driven culture; meditations on the transcendent "wisdom" of the natural world and the role of silence in an age of noise; and arguments in defense of the political value of leisure time and the importance of the humanities in an age defined by the language of science and industry. Written in Slouka's supple and unerring prose, celebratory, critical, and passionate, Essays from the Nick of Time reawakens us to the moment and place in which we find ourselves, caught between the fading presence of the past and the neon lure of the future.
Essays from the Nick of Time: Reflections and Refutations (2010)
“Slouka’s knack for transforming static sentences into lively debates is uncanny, as if he has somehow choreographed a two-sided conversation on the page. As a result, the reader is often left in an unstable fit of frenetic excitement, anxious to solve the riddles of the universe, but only given half the tools to do so. Slouka’s work offers little certainty, though he provides something far more valuable—fodder for our own thoughts. And while he happily leads us to the edge of epiphany, he demands that we take our own leaps.”
“To read Mark Slouka's essays is to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Whether he is writing about where it is between man and nature, or how it is between men and other men, he brings to the page the wisdom of a gracious mind and the affection of a generous spirit.”
"Mark Slouka's dazzling responses to our broken world expose the molten core of the essayist's impulse - the heroic attempt to find (and make) meaning in the midst of chaotic disarray. These pieces, written during our pivotal age of technological, political and economic change, form a riveting cultural panorama. The writing here is of the highest order, the thinking brilliant but never showy, the voice immediate, often wry, always with a pulse, the fat of self-regard entirely burned away in the light of candor. Mark Slouka has written an essential manual for the citizen reader, a landmark collection."
― Patricia Hampl, author of The Florist's Daughter
“Every one of the essays in this collection is distinctive for its originality, its rigorous thinking and the clarity of its expression. . . . In 12 penetrating pieces, novelist and essayist Mark Slouka offers his eloquent and perspective take on aspects on contemporary American life.”
"[Slouka's] ruminative breadth is delicious, utterly likeable and impressive. A unique and valuable voice." — Edward Hoagland, author of Early in the Season and Notes from the Century Before
"Is anyone in America now writing essays that equal Mark Slouka's? I very much doubt it. He's got an uncanny instinct for the crucial topics and waxes brilliantly on education, nature, the burden of history, our current political fix, the true function of writers and writing, silence and cyberculture. In a way, Slouka descends from Kafka and Melville, two of our darkest writers. But in these superbly eloquent, stunningly original essays, there's a shimmering dash of hope that's all his own."
― Mark Edmundson, author of The Fine Wisdom and Perfect Teachings of the Kings of Rock and Roll
"Mark Slouka's Essays from teh Nick of Time arrives in that very nick, offering up not just a suite of vital contemplations of private and public life, but also, in effect, proposing how to confront - and, yes, take joy in - the bewildering complexity of the world as we find it. Slouka's imagination is excitingly elastic, completely tuned to the ways that past insistently impinges on the present, and his self-scouring moral sense is as exact and exacting ad Baldwin's or Orwell's. This book foes on the short shelf marked: essential."
― Sven Birkerts, author of The Gutenberg Elegies: The Fate of Reading in an Electronic Age