Letters of thanks, letters from banks,
Letters of joy from girl and boy,
Receipted bills and invitations
To inspect new stock or to visit relations,
And applications for situations,
And timid lovers’ declarations,
And gossip, gossip from all the nations.
—from “Night Mail” by W.H. Auden

Northwestern University English lecturer emeritus Joseph Epstein, having addressed such topics as friendship and snobbery in previous books, has turned his attention to the number one national global pastime in his latest book, Gossip: The Untrivial Pursuit (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt).