Best American Essays 2002 Contents

Best American Essays 2010 Table of Contents

I haven't had a chance to read through it yet, but figured I'd post the Table of Contents here, as its nearly impossible to find anywhere else (every year they keep their contributor's a mystery, it's pretty bizarre):

Elif Batuman- The Murder of Leo Tolstoy (Harper's)
Toni Bentley- The Bad Lion (NY Review of Books)
Jane Churchon- The Dead Book (The Sun)
Brian Doyle- Irreconcilable Dissonance (Oregon Humanities)
John Gamel- The Elegant Eyeball (Alaska Quarterly Review)
Walter Isaacson- How Einstein Divided America's Jews (The Atlantic)
Steven L. Isenberg- Lunching on Olympus (The American Scholar)
Jane Kramer- Me, Myself, and I (The New Yorker)
Arthur Krystal- When Writers Speak (NY Times Book Review)
Matt Labash- A Rake's Progress (The Weekly Standard)
Phillip Lopate- Brooklyn the Unknowable (Harvard Review)
Ian McEwan- On John Updike (NY Review of Books)
Steven Pinker- My Genome, My Self (NY Times Magazine)
Ron Rindo- Gyromancy (Gettysburg Review)
David Sedaris- Guy Walks into a Bar Car (New Yorker)
Zadie Smith- Speaking in Tongues (NY Review of Books)
S. Frederick Starr- Rediscovering Central Asia (Wilson Quarterly)
John H. Summers- Gettysburg Regress (The New Republic)
John Edgar Wideman- Fatheralong (Harper's)
Garry Wills- Daredevil (The Atlantic)
James Wood- A Fine Range (The New Yorker)

Not sure what to think of this list yet, but I'm sure y'all will have your own reviews/thoughts. Mainly, I'm hoping that we won't get a dozen essays about the process of writing, as last year's edition felt pretty overwhelmed with the subject. As always, I find myself more drawn to the Notable Essays in the back, where one finds a more interesting variety (as well as a few familiar names/contributors to this blog, congratulations all.)

Two factors make this year's volume of The Best American Essays different from its predecessors: the death in May of its editor, Harvard paleontologist Gould (The Structure of Evolutionary Theory), and 9/11, the subject of five of the 24 essays. In his foreword, series editor Robert Atwan, editor of numerous literary anthologies (e.g., The Writer's Presence: A Pool of Readings), suggests that while fiction and poetry strive in times of peace, the essay thrives in times of conflict. Gould notes in his introduction that he was tempted to select only articles about 9/11, but to do so would have "allow[ed] evil madmen to define history." Essays for each year's anthology are chosen from hundreds appearing in American publications; then, about 100 are given to the guest editor for the final selection. (Previous editors have included Kathleen Norris, Alan Lightman, and Cynthia Ozick.) This year's candidates, Gould observes, leaned heavily toward confessional writing and personal storytelling. Authors include Jacques Barzun, David Halberstam, Sebastian Junger, Gore Vidal, and Garry Wills. Noteworthy entries include Amy Kolen on the Triangle Shirtwaist fire, John Sack on Holocaust deniers, and Mario Vargas Llosa on the importance of literature to the human condition. Recommended for all libraries. Denise J. Stankovics, Rockville P.L., Vernon, CT
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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