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The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2002 (The Best American Series) Paperback – October 15, 2002


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 273 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Company; 1St Edition edition (October 15, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0618246940
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618246946
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.5 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #758,112 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Nonrequired? That means your college professor didn't put it on the reading list. Houghton addresses its newest "best of" series to the under-25 crowd, who buy more books than anyone else and should enjoy this blend of fiction and nonfiction from some truly cool zines.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Although the inaugural issue of this hip, eclectic anthology is marketed at 15- to 25-year-olds, the editors are leery of condescending to "young adults" (a term they dislike). Cart goes so far as to deploy self-consciously casual language in his foreword; Eggers (author of A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius) mostly replaces the introduction with a memoir of pool-hopping and awkward desire. Earnest posturing aside, this is a strong collection that includes short bursts of reportage, feature writing, fiction, satire, and even a comic strip (Adrian Tomine's moving, dead-on teenage portrait "Bomb Scare"). Two pieces from The Onion seem a little thin in this context, since they're easily outweighed by works like "The Lost Boys" (Sara Corbett's elegantly direct article about young Sudanese refugees who relocate to Fargo, North Dakota); "My Fake Job" (Rodney Rothman's hilarious and mostly true report about showing up to work at a dot-com that never hired him); and "Higher Education" (Gary Smith's rousing, almost too-good-to-be-true account of a black coach in Amish country). Sharp under-25 readers may still flee if they feel they're being targeted, but they sure don't have to. Keir Graff
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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What a quirky collection of essays from a variety of sources.
John S.
The pieces collected very from short fiction, to political essays, to a graphic story (as in a story told in comic panels), to humor.
Joe Sherry
Overall, I very much enjoyed this book and will be looking forward to the 2003 edition.
S. Calhoun

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By S. Calhoun on December 12, 2002
Format: Paperback
Editor Dave Eggers explains that this inaugural edition of THE BEST AMERICAN NONREQUIRED READING 2002 is targeted for 15 to 25-year-olds. However, I can testify that individuals outside this predetermined age bracket can also gain enjoyment from this book. The wide variety of stories ranging from fiction to nonfiction satisfied me and kept me turning the pages. I enjoyed a great majority of the stories and only disliked two (which is rather remarkable considering that short story compilations seem to contain an equal share of winners and losers, in my own opinion.)
The journalistic entries were phenomenal and shed light on current events such as methamphetamine addiction in Asia, undocumented Mexican laborers in NYC, and Afghanistan soldiers fighting their civil war. Some of the comical pieces made me laugh out laugh such as "The Fourth Angry Mouse" and "My Fake Job" and The Onion entries were also notable (I'm already a fan of that publication.)
Sure, there were some stories intended for a 15 to 25-year-old audience but I could still relate even though it's been a decade since graduating high school. Who can forget what it's like during those delicate years? Overall, I very much enjoyed this book and will be looking forward to the 2003 edition.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Joe Sherry on November 6, 2003
Format: Paperback
This was a fascinating collection. Most of the "Best American" collections are straight forward. You have a good idea of what you're going to get, and if you are widely read in those subjects (sports writing, science writing, short stories, etc), you may have come across most of those essays/stories. In this first collection of Non-required reading, you get the best stories and essays that would never be assigned in school and are from alternative magazines (rather than the large respected newspapers like the New York Times). The pieces collected very from short fiction, to political essays, to a graphic story (as in a story told in comic panels), to humor. It is a varied collection and most of the work is top-notch (I was less impressed with "Hubcap Diamondstar Halo").
Some highlights are "Speed Demons", "Journal of a new COBRA recruit" (yes, COBRA as in from G.I. Joe....this may be my favorite of the collection), "My Fake Job", "Fourth Angry Mouse", "Why McDonald's Fries Taste So Good", the two short pieces from the Onion, "Higher Education", and "Bomb Scare" (Bomb Scare is the graphic story). Just browsing through the table of contents, I was able to list 9 pieces that I would highlight and recommend. If there was nothing else in the collection, that would be enough to recommend it. But, there are other quality pieces in this collection. If you want to read short pieces (both fiction and nonfiction) that you might not ordinarily run across every day, this is the collection for you.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Jeff Adelberg on January 7, 2003
Format: Paperback
I enjoyed most of the work in this compilation. I sort of wonder what the heck it was compiled for, but I I'm glad it was, since I would never have come across any of this stuff otherwise. Favorites include Rodney Rotham's hilarious "My Fake Job" and "The Nice New Radicals" by Seth Mnookin, a piece which I might argue SHOULD be required for some people. Eric Schlosser's "Why McDonald's Fries Taste So Good" was fascinating, but I seem to be the only person on the planet who hasn't already read his work. Many pieces discuss certain cultural struggles: good pieces, but why so many? One piece is "graphic" in both meanings of the word. I am glad it is included, if only to act as a precedent for other compilations. The only notably awful work is "Hubcap Diamondstar Halo" which is as difficult as its title. And even though most of the pieces were engaging, few of them have remained with me. Maybe you should get this book if you like magazines, but not enough to actually subscribe to them. Maybe you should get it if you have a short attention span, like me. Or maybe you shouldn't get it. Don't worry, it's not required.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful By adead_poet@hotmail.com on October 7, 2002
Format: Paperback
This year the Best American Series created a new volume: The Best American Nonrequired Reading. Michael Cart (My Father's Scar) is the series editor, and Dave Eggers is the guest editor. And considering it's Eggers, this volume should do well. It contains some good stories and articles. What hurts it the most is a lack of continuity. It's hard to figure out just what falls into the category of 'nonrequired reading,' even after reading the introductions and the collection. It is a combination of fiction and essays, and seems to have a humourous and experimental slant. It also seems to be directed, as the editors say, to the younger generation, those that fall between 15 and 25 (but good essays and fiction are good for all ages). Most selections come from 'alternative' sources, but there are a few that first appeared in The New Yorker and Esquire and the likes. Still, it is tough to figure out exactly what the criteria for being chosen for this volume is. Even so, it is a good volume of work, well worth reading (like the Best American series tends to be).
The essays/articles in the volume cover a wide range. There is humor (Jenny Bitner's "The Pamphleteer"; Seth Mnookin's "The Nice New Radicals"; "Jiving With Your Teen" by Seaton Smith; and two selections from The Onion). There's an essay ("Generation Exile") about Tibet, drugs ("Speed Demons" which concerns methamphetamine use in Thai), illegal aliens (Kamber's "Toil and Temptation") and their adjustment to America. Sara Corbett's poignant essay "The Lost Boys" (from The New York Times Upfront) about refugees from Africa, and their culture shock and adjustment of coming to America (Minnesota no less). Eric Schlosser's "Why McDonald's Fries Taste So Good" is here.
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