Synopses & Reviews
The Best American Series®
First, Best, and Best-Selling
The Best American series is the premier annual showcase for the country’s finest short fiction and nonfiction. Each volume’s 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 Nonrequired Reading 2012 includes
Kevin Brockmeier, Judy Budnitz, Junot Díaz, Louise Erdrich,
Nora Krug, Julie Otsuka, Eric Puchner, George Saunders,
Adrian Tomine, Jess Walter, and others
"Staying true to its mission of eclecticism, the 11th volume in this series makes room not just for magazine articles and short stories, but also comic strips, letters, text messages, tweets, and committee minutes. Given that those last mentioned items come from the Occupy Wall Street protests, however, this anthology shows more signs of earnest timeliness than might be expected from the title's tongue-in-cheek grandiosity. Some of the 32 selections, once again chosen by high school students in the writing programs known as 826 Valencia and 826 Michigan cofounded by McSweeney's editor Eggers, venture to Russia and Japan in, respectively, Anthony Marra's 'The Palace of the People' and Nora Krug's 'Kamikaze.' Widely different corners of American immigrant experience, meanwhile, figure into short-form memoirs from Junot DÃaz, Jose Antonio Vargas, and Wesley Yang. This year's guest introducer, the late Ray Bradbury, wrote just weeks before his death. While in theory Bradbury's presence should more than justify fantastical selections like Jess Walter's trendily zombie-themed 'Don't Eat Cat' or Eric Puchner's Harrison Bergeron like 'Beautiful Monsters,' Louise Erdrich's and Mark Robert Rapacz's harder-bitten fiction impresses more. Nonfiction from John Jeremiah Sullivan and Jon Ronson, meanwhile, more than measures up to the series' essentially lighthearted spirit, also captured by this year's cover illustrator, Brian Selznick." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"If you need to fall in love with reading again
-or just want a reminder that high school students deserve a lot more than their reading lists give them-then THE BEST AMERICAN NONREQUIRED READING 2012 is the book for you
-Bust "As a devoted fan of this series (this is the 11th volume), I can report that this year's anthology of 32 selections might be the best yet."
-Elizabeth Taylor, Chicago Tribune “An eclectic annual that will leave readers marveling over many of the discoveries...category-defying... All readers will find their own favorites that justify the collection as a whole.”
-Kirkus Reviews "Lively, eclectic and surprising..."
-Minneapolis Star Tribune
"...zesty...a terrific hodgepodge of essays, satirical pieces, short fiction, lists and comics" --The Cleveland Plain Dealer
A selection of the best writing, including fiction, nonfiction, poetry, comics, and blogs, published during 2011. Edited by Dave Eggers.
The ever-entertaining Dave Eggers and his students at the 826 Valencia and Michigan compile a quirky collection and showcase their flair for finding both offbeat tidbits and classic literary gems.
"This great volume highlights the very best of this years fiction, nonfiction, alternative comics, screenplays, blogs, and more” (OK!). Compiled by Dave Eggers and students of his San Francisco writing center, it is thoroughly entertaining and thought-provoking reading” (Library Journal).
The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2008 includes MARJORIE CELONA DAVID GESSNER ANDREW SEAN GREER RAFFI KHATCHADOURIAN STEPHEN KING EMILY RABOTEAU GEORGE SAUNDERS PATRICK TOBIN LAURA VAN DEN BERG MALERIE WILLENS and others
From the Introduction, Featuring an Interview with Judy Blume
The book youre holding is part of a series which every year seeks to compile a varied and unexpected anthology of fiction, nonfiction, essays, journalism, comics, and humor. The books in the Nonrequired series are still assembled in much the same way theyve always beenpassionately and unscientifically. This anthology, part of the Best American juggernaut that includes everything from the original Best American Sheetrock Poetry to the newest addition, Best American Canadian Marsupial Short Fiction Featuring Lewd Woodworking, is considered the best of them all, chiefly because ours usually features the highest volume of cursing.
In an effort to keep the collection moving in new ways and avoid litigation, we decided to ask questions of our guest introducer, the unimprovable Judy Blume.
Theres actually a piece in this collection called Are You There God? Its Me. Also, a Bunch of Zombies. Is this the first time someone has adapted one of your titles to apply to the undead?
Judy Blume: As far as I know this is the first time my title has been adapted to apply to the undead. Lets hope its the last? Ive told my husband I think I should have a headstone someday that reads: ARE YOU THERE GOD? ITS ME . . .
JUDY BLUME Or would that be too weird?
Was it important for you to put positive moral values in your young adult books?
JB: I dont think the best stories come out of a place where the author is determined to put in positive moral values. I mean, whose values? Im happy when my characters behave in an ethical way. But theyre not always going to. An exception was Forever . . . I wanted to show two decent teens taking responsibility for their actions. But really, Im just telling stories. I hope my readers will come away thinking. I hope they find something in my books they can relate to, something that illuminates life for them.
Were you like any of the characters in your books?
JB: I was like my character Sally Freedman. I had a lot of imagination. Often, what I imagined was worse than reality. Starring Sally J. Freedman as Herself is my most autobiographical book. My fourth-grade teacher, whom I fictionalized in Sally J., recently died. I met up with her when Double Fudge was published and she came to a talk/signing in the Miami area. It was a thrill to introduce her to the audience. My sixth-grade experience was like Margarets in Are You There God? Its Me, Margaret. And yes, I did those breast-enhancement exercises. (And no, they didnt work for me.)
A selection of the best writing, including fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and comics, published in American periodicals during 2008 aimed at readers 15 and up.
This "great volume" highlights the "very best of this year's fiction, nonfiction, alternative comics, screenplys, blogs and more" (OK!). Compiled by Dave Eggers and students from his San Francisco writing center, it is "both uproarious and illuminating" (Publishers Weekly).
About the Author
DAVE EGGERS is the editor of McSweeneys and a cofounder of 826 National, a network of nonprofit writing and tutoring centers for youth, located in seven cities across the United States. He is the author of four books, including What Is the What and How We Are Hungry.