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The Best American Essays 2011 (Best American Series) Paperback – Bargain Price, October 4, 2011


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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Always a welcome edition for those who enjoy the charms of nonfiction intellectual journeys." (Kansas City Star )

From the Back Cover

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 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

[INSERT AUTHOR PHOTO] EDWIDGE DANTICAT, editor, is the author of several books, including Brother, I’m Dying, a 2008 winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for autobiography. Her most recent book is Create Dangerously, a collection of essays.

Look for the other best-selling titles in the Best American series:

THE BEST AMERICAN COMICS
THE BEST AMERICAN MYSTERY STORIES
THE BEST AMERICAN NONREQUIRED READING
THE BEST AMERICAN SCIENCE AND NATURE WRITING
THE BEST AMERICAN SHORT STORIES
THE BEST AMERICAN SPORTS WRITING
THE BEST AMERICAN TRAVEL WRITING

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Product Details

  • Series: Best American Series
  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books; 1 edition (October 4, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0547479778
  • ASIN: B007K4HP2U
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #915,984 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

60 of 61 people found the following review helpful By cs211 on December 31, 2011
Format: Paperback
As is often the case in the Best American series, Edwidge Danticat exercises her power as guest editor of the 2011 volume of The Best American Essays to make selections which appeal to her tastes, either because of the background of the author, the subject matter, or the viewpoints expressed within. This is a natural human tendency, and many readers say it is one of the chief appealing aspects of the Best American series. Fortunately I do not think Danticat has sacrificed too much on quality in making her selections, nor do they adhere to a single, narrow political view of the world. There is a decent variety of authors and topics, and aside from a couple duds, the quality level is very good overall, with a few standouts.

Minority authors are well represented, as is the topic of sex of various shapes and sizes. In fact I daresay this volume should come with an "Explicit Language" label on it; just be forewarned if you are considering passing this along to a young high school student as an example of the craft of the essay. Victor LaValle in particular, in the essay "Long Distance", confesses to behavior that you don't often see discussed in polite company. The best essays, in my opinion were:

-- Katy Butler's "What Broke My Father's Heart" probably should be required reading for all adults contemplating the instructions they want to leave to others to guide the medical care they receive at the end of life, as it presents a realistic, eye-opening view of the issues created by how the medical care system in the U.S. treats the elderly.

-- Pico Iyer's "Chapels" demonstrates the importance of quiet contemplation in our ever-accelerating information overload society.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Happy Epsilon on December 7, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Best of Anthologies often catch a lot of flak on Amazon, but this year's Best American Essays is superb. I've loved each piece I've read. Individual pieces cover a variety of topics, styles, and backgrounds. Two of my favorites so far are Pico Iyer's "Chapels" which is a meditative piece about finding quiet, and Madge McKeithen's "What Really Happened," which I can't even describe here because I would mess it up.

The pieces in this anthology will expand your worldview and deepen your understanding of all the ways we are alive and human.
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55 of 65 people found the following review helpful By J. Peyton on October 13, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
NOTE: This is not a review of the contents.

PROBLEM: Author names aren't included in the Kindle version table of contents. That may seem minor, but one of the great things about these anthologies is that you can skip around from author to author. The Kindle version makes it impossible to do this, which is frankly annoying. The "Look Inside!" table of contents for the paperback version is what it should look like.

If you read the anthologies from front to back, then ignore this review. If you're like me and you like to skip around by author (or even magazine), you might be better off buying the paperback. I wish I had.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Kenny A. Chaffin on December 15, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Virtually every essay was not only interesting but OF interest and well written. Kudos to the editor!
Head and shoulders above the last few editions.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on October 21, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I picked up this book for my Advanced Writing class at college. I had never actually read many essays. I'm not sure if I'd have really known what an essay was if it bit me in the tukus. That being said, this book and the class I'm taking, has opened me up to a wonderful new world of writing. Each essay is trying to further puzzle out the human condition. I'm no philosopher, and I generally find it frustrating to let questions spin and spin around in my head when they can't be answered. For some reason, the essays in this book actually empower me. It's the darnedest thing because I'm not easily motivated. They make me want to write. I do write every day now. It's my dream to one day be published in this book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By John W. Marlow on October 17, 2012
Format: Paperback
After enjoying many past issues of this important anthology, I found the 2011 version disturbing, mostly because of the subject choices. It seems important for literature to examine all important aspects of human life, however, this version was often depressing and morbid. Popular media are already turgid with such material. Surely, editors can find a better balance between the heroic and pathetic. The writing was still excellent, sometimes wonderful. It demonstrates the expanding population of excellent writers today. On occasion, style seemed to take precedence over subject, which can appear like classroom narrative exercise. For example, writing in the second person voice can be useful educational practice, but for readers it may seem like boundary stretching purely for novelty and demonstration. Perhaps, the selection of guest editors can focus on writers who have a broader, more universal subject matter horizon.
JWM
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By working mom on April 17, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The story about the pacemaker, I was speechless because it was pure delight. Several other stories I really enjoyed. Some stories did not speak to me. All and all, great!!
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I am glad I read the thought-provoking essay by Zadie Smith and two others. Beyond that I could not believe the depressing content and tone of the essays. As well they were incredibly long (so was Zadie's but she kept me interested), so there was no missing the fact that if there was light at the end of the proverbial tunnel it would be indeed dim. Getting the thesis quickly only to face pages of darkness is not my idea of a good read. Please understand--I did not finish any but one of these dark extended journeys though the gray world. One was enough for me. And yes, I did begin all of the essays. Lest you think I am a Pollyanna, I am not. Light and happy are not criteria for my reading choices. However, life is too short to take the trips that Edwidge Danticat provides. Even Dante had Purgatorio and Paradiso to anticipate.
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