What I love about these essays is how they capture a very particular but strangely ineffable way of being in the world. They tell stories of smart people doing battle with the stupidities that surround them, of adulthood thwarted and childhood cheated and the heartbreaking ways that our dreams both sustain us and bury us. Throughout it all Joe Oestreich is wise, good humored and deeply literary. I read Partisansin fits of recognition and admiration. It’s a formidable collection by a genuine talent.
— Meghan Daum, author of THE UNSPEAKABLE: AND OTHER SUBJECTS OF DISCUSSION
In his new collection of essays, Partisans, Joe Oestreich piles his readers into a tour van and barrels unflinchingly down the highway into subjects like guilt and murder, race, privilege, youth, music, marriage, work, and other deep territory of contemporary American life. Guiding you with a mix of muscle, humor, and grace, these essays are part escapist travel narrative, part personal essay, all blended with artful but fearless critical reflection on social issues, ethics, and morality. We’re not just watching road signs go by in this book; we’re stopping and living, truly experiencing people and places from the neighborhoods of Columbus, Ohio, to the resorts and jungles of Mexico, to Paris, to the suburbs of South Carolina. Partisans is always driving, always pushing us to consider where we stand and how we understand our personal and collective legacy of youthful angst and artistic idealism. To read this book is to be bounced, rattled and changed by the ride.
—Steven Church, author of ONE WITH THE TIGER and ULTRASONIC
In these punchy, often very funny personal essays, we get snapshots from a well-considered life both home and abroad, at childhood and beneath the shadow of middle age, in the barber’s chair and onstage at your local rock club. Joe Oestreich writes with such a warm voice and an easy closeness, I spent most of these pages feeling as if he were across a bar table from me and we were making a rowdy evening out of his gifts for storytelling.
—Elena Passarello, author of LET ME CLEAR MY THROAT and ANIMALS STRIKE CURIOUS POSES
Joe Oestreich is the begotten son of Mitchell, Didion, and McPhee—but also an absolute original. These essays cover so much ground and break new ground at every step. Playful, rebellious, searching, Oestreich takes us through disparate landscapes while making of each one a place and people we come to know intimately. And what we discover is not our differences but our glaring commonalities. Partisans is the best essay collection I’ve read in years, from a writer working at the highest level of the craft.
—Brad Land, author of GOAT