The Best American Essays 2012 Kindle Edition

4.2 out of 5 stars 55 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0547840093
ISBN-10: 0547840098
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Book Description

Previous ISBN 978-0-547-47977-4
 

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 2012 includes

Marcia Angell, Miah Arnold, Mark Doty, Joseph Epstein, Jonathan Franzen,
Malcolm Gladwell, Francine Prose, Lauren Slater,
Sandra Tsing Loh, Jose Antonio Vargas, and others

[INSERT AUTHOR PHOTO] DAVID BROOKS, editor, is a New York Times op-ed columnist and the author, most recently, of The Social Animal. He is also a commentator on the PBS NewsHour and a frequent analyst on NPR’s All Things Considered.

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



Product Details

  • File Size: 893 KB
  • Print Length: 339 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books; 2012 ed. edition (October 2, 2012)
  • Publication Date: October 2, 2012
  • Sold by: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B006R8PHZW
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #372,281 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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The collection contains its share of essays that are strong enough, with a shortage of "Wow" and an excess of relative lightweights, such as the worst contribution, a dud by Mark Doty on Bram Stoker. My favorites included:

* Wesley Yang on Asian stereotypes and attempts to break them by Asians themselves (he really means east Asians) who want to move beyond academic success.

* Ewa Hryniewicz-Yarbrough on connection to her grandmother in Poland through her attachment to objects and other artifacts. Sweet story.

* Dr. Don is not your usual druggist, this time in rural Colorado, tending to the various needs of his isolated cohort.

* The examination of Edward Hopper works best with a computer at hand for viewing the art along the way.

* You Owe Me - how could it not be difficult to teach writing to children dying of cancer? She writes strongly in an area susceptible to going over the top.

* The Crazy State of Psychiatry is distressed about the rise of medication as the central force in the field.

* Who Are You and What Are You Doing Here? - with a third offspring finishing college, there seems to be enough truth in here to be solid. One thing for sure: you can get by even in elite colleges without doing a whole lot, but the opportunity to get a lot more out of it is there for the motivated.

Sandra Tsing Loh is clearly a writer who can yield high negatives. Her aggressive and loud style is entertaining in The Atlantic, from where this piece came.

Sure, Jonathan Franzen's personal travel memoir is well crafted, but is not interesting enough to be notable, perhaps because David Foster Wallace means little to me.

The essay on a father's dementia, more of a story with mostly dialog rather than an essay, is another one that is uncomfortable, about that possibly terrifying future.
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