Synopses & Reviews
Edited by the author of Welcome to My Country and Prozac Diary, a new collection of the finest nonfiction essays published over the past year incorporates the work of distinguished masters of the essay genre, including Adam Gopnik, Scott Turow, Marjorie Williams, Poe Ballantine, and others. Simultaneous.
Compiles the best literary essays of the year originally published in American periodicals
"The essays in this volume are powerful, plainspoken meditations on birthing, dying, and all the business in between," writes Lauren Slater in her introduction to the 2006 edition. "They reflect the best of what we, as a singular species, have to offer, which is reflection in a context of kindness. The essays tell hard-won tales wrestled sometimes from great pain."
The twenty powerful essays in this volume are culled from periodicals ranging from The Sun to The New Yorker, from Crab Orchard Review to Vanity Fair. In "Missing Bellow," Scott Turow reflects on the death of an author he never met, but one who "overpowered me in a way no other writer had." Adam Gopnik confronts a different kind of death, that of his five-year-old daughter's pet fish -- a demise that churns up nothing less than "the problem of consciousness and the plotline of Hitchock's Vertigo."
A pet is center stage as well in Susan Orlean's witty and compassionate saga of a successful hunt for a stolen border collie. Poe Ballantine chronicles a raw-nerved pilgrimage in search of salvation, solace, and a pretty brunette, and Laurie Abraham, in "Kinsey and Me," journeys after the man who dared to plumb the mysteries of human desire. Marjorie Williams gives a harrowing yet luminous account of her life with cancer, and Michele Morano muses on the grammar of the subjunctive mood while proving that "in language, as in life, moods are complicated, but at least in language there are only two."
About the Author
ROBERT ATWAN has been the series editor of The Best American Essays since its inception in 1986. He has edited numerous literary anthologies and written essays and reviews for periodicals nationwide.
Table of Contents
Foreword by Robert Atwan ix Introduction by Lauren Slater xv
Laurie Abraham. Kinsey and Me 1 from Elle
Poe Ballantine. 501 Minutes to Christ 11 from The Sun
Emily Bernard. Teaching the N-Word 25 from The American Scholar
Ken Chen. City Out of Breath 43 from MÁnoa
Toi Derricotte. Beginning Dialogues 48 from Creative Nonfiction
Joseph Epstein. The Culture of Celebrity 54 from The Weekly Standard
Eugene Goodheart. Whistling in the Dark 70 from The Sewanee Review
Adam Gopnik. Death of a Fish 85 from The New Yorker
Kim Dana Kupperman. Relief 96 from Hotel Amerika
Michele Morano. Grammar Lessons: The Subjunctive Mood 107 from Crab Orchard Review
Susan Orlean. Lost Dog 122 from The New Yorker
Sam Pickering. George 133 from Southwest Review
Robert Polito. Shame 153 from Black Clock
David Rieff. Illness as More Than Metaphor 159 from The New York Times Magazine
Oliver Sacks. Recalled to Life 172 from The New Yorker
Peter Selgin. Confessions of a Left-Handed Man 185 from The Literary Review
Alan Shapiro. Why Write? 197 from The Cincinnati Review
Lily Tuck. Group Grief 208 from The Hudson Review
Scott Turow. Missing Bellow 225 from The Atlantic Monthly
Marjorie Williams. A Matter of Life and Death 238 from Vanity Fair
Biographical Notes 265 Notable Essays of 2005 270