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“The Babysitter” by Anton DiSclafani: Writing the Braided Essay

“The Babysitter” by Anton DiSclafani: Writing the Braided Essay

I’ll admit it—I’m a sucker for a good woven essay. Call it a braided or challah essay, give it two strands, give it four. I’m drawn to them, and when I read a good one, I find myself pulling the pieces apart, trying to master the art of it. It’s not something I tend to lean toward in my own writing. When I’ve experimented with writing braided essays in the past, I’ve often felt the parts were too disparate, and I struggled to find that all-important connection between the threads. A good braided essay takes a few sections—maybe a few different periods in one’s life for example—and weaves them together, back and forth, until the connections between the strands becomes clear. I love to read and admire a good braided essay. Anton DiSclafani’s “The Babysitter,” included in River Teeth 19.2, is an exceptionally instructive example of the form…

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