Patrick Madden

Patrick Madden (CNF) | Lehi, UT

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Patrick Madden is the author of Sublime Physick (2016) and Quotidiana (2010), winner of Foreword Reviews and Independent Publisher book of the year awards, and finalist for the PEN Center USA Literary Award. His personal essays, nominated for four Pushcart Prizes and noted in the Best American Essays six times, have been published widely in such journals as Fourth Genre, Hotel Amerika, the Iowa Review, McSweeney’s, the Normal School, River Teeth, and Southwest Review, and have been anthologized in The Best Creative Nonfiction and The Best American Spiritual Writing. With David Lazar, he co-edited After Montaigne: Contemporary Essayists Cover the Essays (2015) and now co-edits the 21st Century Essays series at Ohio State University Press. A current Howard Foundation fellow and two-time Fulbright fellow to Uruguay, he teaches at Brigham Young University and Vermont College of Fine Arts, and he curates an online anthology and essay resource at


Sublime Physick (University of Nebraska Press, 2016). CNF. Memoir / Essays.
Quotidiana (University of Nebraska Press, 2010). CNF. Memoir / Essays.

Press & Reviews

“No one writing essays today does so with a greater awareness of the genre’s literary traditions than Patrick Madden. Irresistible, with their meditative musicality and erudite reflections, these essays brilliantly balance a tough-minded pragmatism with a warm embrace of the impossible. Like all the great essayists he pays homage to, Madden seeks to find the miraculous in the mundane, the sublime in the ordinary, the hazards lurking in our momentary contentment. He understands perfectly why Emerson thought the joy of essaying lay in surprise: to surprise their readers, essayists must first surprise themselves.”
—Robert Atwan, series editor of The Best American Essays

“Ingenious and witty, audacious and charming, learned, moving, and frank: Patrick Madden’s Sublime Physick places him among the most interesting and essential essayists of our time.”
—Mary Cappello, author of Awkward: A Detour and Called Back

“It’s like Montaigne and Sebald got drunk and wrote a book together.”
—Brian Doyle, author of Mink River and Leaping

“Patrick Madden combines, to a rare degree, a scholar’s knowledge and an artist’s command of the essay as a literary form. In his hands, the essay becomes a medium for pondering and celebrating our mysterious existence. Readers who wish to reflect more deeply on their own lives will find abundant rewards in these pages.”
—Scott Russell Sanders, author of Earth Works: Selected Essays

“Patrick Madden has a footloose, restless, well-stocked mind, sometimes maddening but always quite interesting; he gleefully demonstrates what Montaigne claimed: an essay is the best way to show that everything is connected to everything else.”
—Phillip Lopate, editor of The Art of the Personal Essay

“Patrick Madden is an essayist of verve, passion, wit, and dependable moral compass. Quotidiana drew me in powerfully, from page to page and from pleasure to pleasure.”
—Ian Frazier, author of Lamentations of the Father

“Learned and lighthearted, eloquent and eccentric, cheerful and nutty and utterly fresh, Patrick Madden appears to have absorbed the salt and song of every fine essayist since Plutarch died, and he smoothly manages to cram an immense amount of math, science, biography, song, comparative religion, American history, Uruguayan history, and much else, without ever getting pedantic or dull, which is an amazing thing.”
—Brian Doyle, author of Leaping.

Quotidiana puts the post in postmodern. It is not the next best thing but the best next thing, a truly creative creative nonfiction book. Patrick Madden has constructed a text ripe for the authorial reader’s arrangement of meaning. The collaged fragments, the fragmentary collage is the form that feels right for right now. Everything in the book is important, everything is thrown off, thrown away. Everything gleams like the center of some sun and, at the same time, collapses into the foil of the blackest of black holes. The book is a remarkable achievement of complex simplicity and an elegant confusion.
—Michael Martone, author of Racing in Place

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