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The Best American Essays 2012 Paperback – October 2, 2012

ISBN-13: 978-0547840093 ISBN-10: 0547840098 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Series: Best American
  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books; 1 edition (October 2, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0547840098
  • ISBN-13: 978-0547840093
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.5 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #182,457 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

ROBERT ATWAN has been the series editor of The Best American Essays since its inception in 1986. He has edited numerous literary anthologies and written essays and reviews for periodicals nationwide.

More About the Author

Miah Arnold is the author of Sweet Land of Bigamy, and a number of short pieces of fiction and nonfiction. Her essay, "You Owe Me" (originally published by Michigan Quarterly Review) will appear in Best American Essays 2012. She grew up in a house attached to The Three Legged Dog Saloon in rural Utah, studied history at Carleton College, and earned a Ph. D. in literature and creative writing at the University of Houston. She teaches adults and children throughout Houston in University and nonprofit settings. She has served as a fiction editor at Gulf Coast and a poetry editor at Lyric Poetry Review. Her work has appeared in Michigan Quarterly Review, Nanofiction, Confrontation, Painted Bride Quarterly, and the South Dakota Review. She has received a Barthelme Award, an Inprint/Diana P. Hobby Award, and an Established Artists Grant from the Houston Arts Alliance for her work. She is assistant professor of English at Georgia College.

Customer Reviews

All of these essays are thought provoking and well written.
rtclark
I still strongly urge readers to give it a try because if you actually make it all the way through it, your brain will feel as though it had a good workout.
cs211
Every morning as I get on a treadmill, I opened this book and read an essay.
Diane Keyes

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

148 of 166 people found the following review helpful By Caraculiambro on October 17, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Another near-excellent collection of essays from the folks who do it best. This year, it seemed, the editor wanted to explore the themes of technology, boredom, and the quality of life. But in the end, as is inevitable these days, the volume ends up getting swamped by essays concerned with gender and ethnic issues. I don't think it takes much to choose the essays for one of these collections. Basically you've just got to say, Have we got a gay issues essay? Check. A feminism essay? Check. Minority issues? Check. And so on.

THE FOUL REIGN OF SELF-RELIANCE, by Benjamin Anastas. The author asserts that Emerson's philosophy of self-reliance is naïve and unhelpful. He doesn't really make a case; the "essay" is really just an undeveloped statement. Probably the worst essay of the bunch.

THE CRAZY STATE OF PSYCHIATRY, by Marcia Angell. Author discusses how crazy it is that everybody these days seems to be diagnosed with some sort of mental disorder, and how psychiatric treatments have nearly all become chemical-based.

YOU OWE ME, by Miah Arnold. One of the most painful essays in this collection: the thoughts of a woman who teaches creative writing to children with cancer.

EDWARD HOPPER AND THE GEOMETRY OF DESPAIR, by Geoffrey Bent. An appreciation of the compositional acumen of Edward Hopper, an American painter. The essay therefore seems focused but ultimately has nothing deeper to say than that he uses light and empty space well.

A BEAUTY, by Robert Boyers. A rumination on beauty being skin-deep. The author had a startlingly handsome friend who was something of a cad, etc.

THE GOOD SHORT LIFE, by Dudley Clendinen.
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28 of 28 people found the following review helpful By cs211 on November 4, 2012
Format: Paperback
Every year I look forward to diving into the Best American Essays volume. It is usually the most intelligent and educational book that I read all year, which is why I call this series "brain food". This year is no exception, although I wouldn't quite rate this year's volume as highly as others. I still strongly urge readers to give it a try because if you actually make it all the way through it, your brain will feel as though it had a good workout.

Guest Editor David Brooks appears to have utilized a fairly broad definition of "essay" for this volume. Some of the selected works are what I would call "traditional essays": first-person narratives in which the experiences, emotions and thoughts of the author dominate, such as Wesley Yang's "Paper Tigers", in which he confesses to being an illegal immigrant and explains exactly how he has gone about concealing his nationality. Others selections are dispassionate fact-based articles about a topic, such as Alan Lightman's "The Accidental Universe", which discusses some of the latest scientific thinking about dark energy and the laws of physics. Because of this spectrum of essay types, and because the selections are organized by the author's last name, you don't know what you are going to read next as you traverse this volume. One way to view this book is that you are reading a selection of some of the best non-fiction magazine articles published in the U.S. in the past year.
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11 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on October 13, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The real truth behind non-fiction, is that you can't make it up--the emotions, the stories, the thoughts--the best fiction can do, at its very best, is approximate. Read these essays, and you will be touched, outraged, amused and above all jolted into thought. Read, think, and rebut if you don't agree or argue in support if you do--reading non-fiction may not make you smarter, but it will make your brain work--so readers; read, think and write--an essay really is thinking on paper.

All but the most mindless readers will find one story here that will speak to them in a way even the best fiction can't--try it and enjoy a new kind of read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Domingo Luiggi on February 22, 2013
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I was disappointed about the bend of the editor choosing the worldview of his predilection and that appears to be taken for granted by young college graduates of our present day who seem to follow academicians in every way possible rather than thinking for themselves.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Brian Sabey on February 1, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
An interesting array of essays, similar mainly in that they are all briliant and thought-provoking. I strongly suggest this book.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By sonabeta on January 14, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Every year, I create a little anticipation by reading the two forwards (both good this year) and then start at the beginning. I know it's essentially orderless, but anyway, I just do it that way. Most years, I end up jumping around and skipping articles, but this time, I was engrossed from beginning to end. What an incredible, thought-provoking collection. These essays truly make you see things differently or in a new light; they reveal facts and facets of people; they connect to each other and ring true even as they describe completely foreign ideas and life experiences. Themes arise, are revisited, and are reflected from various angles. The writing is across the board excellent.
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