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I would like to eradicate anger and doubt. Of course, without anger and doubt, there might be no essays. That might be why I feel so ambivalent about my presence here at something called the NonfictioNow conference in Flagstaff, Arizona, an exploration of the essay form by over a hundred writers from the margins to the mid-list. That statement, I know, if not only doubtful but angry, intended to insult and insulate. And ambivalence is impossible to eradicate though so many of us in the American middle class make it our business to try. So let me so say the same thing, honestly, in a different way, before I make my escape: there is so much incredible stuff to read here, all the more so because most of it is probably completely unknown to you. (These pronouns--you, I we, they--are necessarily ambiguous, shifting, dependent upon context.)

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