Synopses & Reviews
This collection is the product of many heads. The writers included herein are from every background imaginable, and their stories create a crazy quilt of lived time in and around 2001. This is The Best American Nonrequired Reading
, intended to combine the best intentions of the other "Best American" volumes to create a collection with slightly younger readers.
To that end, guest editor Dave Eggers worked with the students who attend and help teach at 826 Valencia, his writing lab in San Francisico, giving them hundreds of stories and articles to read and choose among. All of the selections inside have been read and found worthy by a small committee of readers in high school and college, and while there are patterns in what they chose for example, a strong interest in goings-on not just in school but all over the world they've also guided this collection toward its utter undefinablility. There are some really funny things, from the likes of David Sedaris, The Onion, and Modern Humorist, and some lighter fiction, as in David Schickler's "Fourth Angry Mouse" and Elizabeth McKenzie's "Stop That Girl," about a hellish trip to Switzerland that a twelve-year-old takes with her grandmother, but there's a seriousness throughout, with stories about immigrants from Mexico in Manhattan, young Afghani men vacillating between the Taliban and the Northern Alliance, and the black coach of a Pennsylvania Amish basketball team.
This collection is barely cohesive and often confusing. And this is good. Your own life, we bet, is barely cohesive and often confusing. And given how confused and wayward you are, we will help you do the right thing: read this and love it. The makers of The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2002 insist that you enjoy it and then tell your friends to enjoy it. This will give structure to your life and bounce to your steps. You're welcome.
"[T]his inaugural title in Houghton's newest 'Best American' series deserves at least as much attention for the remarkable scope and quality of its works [as for Eggers's popularity]....Much of the writing resembles Eggers's, but it doesn't lack originality and the necessary wit. There is enough rareness here to provoke heavy circulation in both public and academic libraries." Library Journal
"While a number of pieces have been included as comic relief, only David Sedaris (unsurprisingly) and the Onion bits...are likely to crack anybody up. Perhaps the truly cool don't want to be caught guffawing....An alternative to the Banana Republic gift certificate for that difficult nephew with a birthday." Kirkus Reviews
The Best American Nonrequired Reading is the newest addition to the best-selling "Best American" series, and the first annual of its kind for the under-twenty-five set. This genre-busting collection features ten unabridged selections fiction and nonfiction, humor and satire drawn from such publications as The New Yorker, Jane, Sports Illustrated, The Onion, and others.
The Best American Nonrequired Reading is a selection for young people of the best literature from mainstream and alternative American periodicals: from The New Yorker to Jane, Rolling Stone to The Onion, Vibe to various magazines, zines, and journals that, if you're over thirty, you've never heard of. This genre-busting collection includes fiction -- young, coming-of-age, multicultural -- and nonfiction, including articles on popular culture and politics, profiles, humor, satire, even alternative comics.
About the Author
Dave Eggers, the author of You Shall Know Our Velocity
and A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
and the editor of McSweeney's
, is inaugural guest editor. He is the founder of 826 Valencia, a San Francisco writing lab for city youth.
Michael Cart is the author of My Father's Scar, a 1997 ALA Best Book for Young Adults, as well as many other books. A reviewer for major national media, Cart has served on numerous awards committees, including the National Book Award Committee.
Table of Contents
by Dave Eggers
My Fake Job by Rodney Rothman, read by the author
The Lost Boys by Sara Corbett, read by Dave Eggers
The Pamphleteer by Jenny Bitner, read by the author
Snacks by Sam Lipsyte, read by the author
Local Hipster Overexplaining Why He Was At the Mall by The Onion, read by John Krewson
Stop That Girl by Elizabeth McKenzie, read by the author
Journal of a New Cobra Recruit by Keith Pille, read by Dave Eggers
Why McDonald's Fries Taste So Good by Eric Schlosser, read by the author
To Make a Friend, Be a Friend by David Sedaris, read by Jeff Woodman
Higher Education by Gary Smith, read by Oliver Wyman