Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592) invented the essay and has been acknowledged as the master of this medium. Editors David Lazar and Patrick Madden have set this impressive anthology up along the lines of a cover album where various artists pay tribute to a forebearer with their own performances of his or her songs. They have asked 28 prominent essay writers to "give their take on a Montaignean subject." Essentially each of these selections opens us up to the creative and wide-ranging spirit of Montaigne's essays. Those who want to read the originals can visit www.aftermontaigne.org.

Some of the most beguiling and soul-provoking pieces in this collection are Lila Purpura's "Of Prayers" where she mimes Montaigne's habit of veering from one thing to another; Mary Cappello's playful "Of Thumbs" where she admits to having tried to "channel" the French essayist; Lina M. Ferreira's "Of Cannibals" where she commends Montaigne's great empathy; Steven Church's "Of Idleness" where he tries to control the "wild ramblings" of his mind; Barrie Jean Borich's "Of Wearing My Red Dress" where she is happy to have been given the chance to consider the relationship between clothes, aesthetics, and joy; Chris Arthur's "Of Solitude" where he celebrates Montaigne's suggestion that we "rub and polish our brains by contact with those of others"; and Patrick Madden's "Of Practice" where he sets out to adopt the French essayist's method of literary exploration.