Synopses & Reviews
The Best American Series®
First, Best, and Best-Selling
The Best American series is the premier annual showcase for the countrys finest short fiction and nonfiction. Each volumes series editor selects notable works from hundreds of magazines, journals, and websites . A special guest editor, a leading writer in the field, then chooses the best twenty or so pieces to publish. This unique system has made the Best American series the most respected—and most popular—of its kind.
The Best American Essays 2011 includes
Hilton Als, Katy Butler, Toi Derricotte, Christopher Hitchens,
Pico Iyer, Charlie LeDuff, Chang-Rae Lee, Lia Purpura, Zadie Smith,
Reshma Memon Yaqub, and others
"This collection is satisfying in its unexpected diversity and tasty juxtapositions . . . Every reader will come away delighted and enlightened." -- Publishers Weekly, starred review
"A wide variety of quality writing, both reflective and reported." -- Kirkus Reviews
Edited by the award-winning and critically-acclaimed Edwidge Danticat, author of Brother, I Am Dying, this classic collection of essays showcases the year's best.
Here you will find the finest essays judiciously selected from countless publications” (Chicago Tribune), ranging from The New Yorker and Harpers to Swink and Pinch. In his introduction to this years edition, Adam Gopnik finds that great essays have text and inner text, personal story and larger point, the thing youre supposed to be paying attention to and some other thing youre really interested in.” David Sedariss quirky, hilarious account of a childhood spent yearning for a home where history was properly respected is also a poignant rumination on surviving the passage of time. In The Ecstasy of Influence,” Jonathan Lethem ponders the intriguing phenomenon of cryptomnesia: a person believes herself to be creating something new but is really recalling similar, previously encountered work. Ariel Levy writes in The Lesbian Brides Handbook” of her efforts to plan a party that accurately reflects her lifestyle (which she notes is not black-tie!”) as she confronts head-on what it means to be married. And Lauren Slater is off to Tripp Lake,” recounting the one summer she spent at campa summer of color wars, horseback riding, and the wild sadness” that settled in her when she was away from home.
In the end, Gopnik believes that the only real ambition of an essayist is to be a master of our common life. This latest installment of The Best American Essays is full of writing that reveals, in Gopniks words, the breath of things as they are.”
Edited by award-winning poet and essayist Mary Oliver, the latest edition of this "rich and thoughtful collection" (Publishers Weekly) offers the finest essays "judiciously selected from countless publications" (Chicago Tribune).
The provocative and best-selling author Christopher Hitchens takes the helm of the twenty-fifth anniversary edition of this perennial favorite that is reliable and yet still surprisingthe best of the best” (Kirkus Reviews).
A collection of the years's best essays, as published in periodicals.
The best essays of the year selected and introduced by Mary Oliver.
The twenty-fifth anniversary edition of the esssay collection that consistently offers the "best of the best" (Kirkus).
The twenty-two essays in this powerful collection -- perhaps the most diverse in the entire series -- come from a wide variety of periodicals, ranging from n + 1 and PMS to the New Republic and The New Yorker, and showcase a remarkable range of forms. Read on for narrative -- in first and third person -- opinion, memoir, argument, the essay-review, confession, reportage, even a dispatch from Iraq. The philosopher Peter Singer makes a case for philanthropy; the poet Molly Peacock constructs a mosaic tribute to a little-known but remarkable eighteenth-century woman artist; the novelist Marilynne Robinson explores what has happened to holiness in contemporary Christianity; the essayist Richard Rodriguez wonders if California has anything left to say to America; and the Harvard biologist Edward O. Wilson attempts to find common ground with the evangelical community.
In his introduction, David Foster Wallace makes the spirited case that many of these essays are valuable simply as exhibits of what a first-rate artistic mind can make of particular fact-sets -- whether these involve the 17-kHz ring tones of some kids cell phones, the language of movement as parsed by dogs, the near-infinity of ways to experience and describe an earthquake, the existential synecdoche of stagefright, or the revelation that most of what youve believed and revered turns out to be self-indulgent crap.”
About the Author
Edwidge Danticat is the author of numerous critically accalimed books, including Breath, Eyes, Memory; Krik? Krak!, a National Book Award finalist, The Farming of Bones, an American Book Award winner; The Dew Breaker, a PEN/Faulkner Award finalist, and Brother, I'm Dying, winner of an NBCC award in Autobiography. 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 viii Introduction: Deciderization 2007 a Special Report, by David Foster Wallace xii
Jo Ann Beard. Werner 1 from Tin House
Ian Buruma. The Freedom to Offend 22 from The New Republic
Mark Danner. Iraq: The War of the Imagination 28 from The New York Review of Books
W. S. di Piero. Fatheads Hard Times 62 from The Threepenny Review
George Gessert. An Orgy of Power 72 from Northwest Review
Malcolm Gladwell. What the Dog Saw 86 from The New Yorker
Mark Greif. Afternoon of the Sex Children 103 from n + 1
Marione Ingram. Operation Gomorrah 123 from Granta
Garret Keizer. Loaded 137 from Harpers Magazine
John Lahr. Petrified 144 from The New Yorker
Louis Menand. Name That Tone 155 from The New Yorker
Daniel Orozco. Shakers 158 from StoryQuarterly
Cynthia Ozick. Out from Xanadu 170 from The New York Times Book Review
Molly Peacock. Passion Flowers in Winter 174 from PMS
Phillip Robertson. In the Mosque of Imam Ali 190 from TriQuarterly
Marilynne Robinson. Onward, Christian Liberals 210 from The American Scholar
Richard Rodriguez. Disappointment 221 from California
Elaine Scarry. Rules of Engagement 234 from Boston Review
Roger Scruton. A Carnivores Credo 259 from Harpers Magazine
Peter Singer. What Should a Billionaire Give and What Should You? 266 from The New York Times Magazine
Jerald Walker. Dragon Slayers 281 from The Iowa Review
Edward O. Wilson. Apocalypse Now 288 from The New Republic
Contributors Notes 295 Notable Essays of 2006 300