Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2003 (The Best American Series) Paperback – October 10, 2003
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
From Publishers Weekly
In his deliciously kooky foreword, Eggers (You Shall Know Our Velocity) describes this excellent literary compilation as a gathering of "good writing from contemporary writers," but it's much more than that. The 25 pieces, previously published in glossies (the New Yorker, Atlantic Monthly, Harper's) and smaller outlets (Tin House, Alaska Quarterly Review, Nerve.com) were selected by San Francisco high schoolers, and all are worthy of the reprint they get here. The eclectic assemblage of fiction, nonfiction, humor and comics alternates between serious articles, such as Mark Bowden's elaborate, exhaustive examination of Saddam Hussein ("Tales of the Tyrant"), and the comic brilliance of illustrator Lynda Barry, the charmingly goofy sentimentality of David Sedaris and the flippancy of the Onion's "I'll Try Anything with a Detached Air of Superiority." Last year's collection was aimed at young adults, and several selections here address themes of peer pressure and children's cruelty: Ryan Boudinot's Halloween-themed "The Littlest Hitler," David Drury's story of suburban misfits in "Things We Knew When the House Caught Fire" and Judy Budnitz's disturbing family tale "Visiting Hours." The street-smart spunk of J.T. Leroy's "Stuff" and K. Kvashay-Boyle's "Saint Chola" combine with Daniel Voll's unflinching view of life in South Central Los Angeles to give the collection a dash of grit. Readers of all ages should be delighted with this literary smorgasbord. Eggers deserves credit for another first-rate collection.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Browse award-winning titles. See more
If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support?
Top Customer Reviews
There's a long, quietly chilling piece on Saddam Hussein by Mark Bowden and a buoyantly resolute piece on growing up American and Muslim during the first Gulf War by V. Kvashay-Boyle.
A number of pieces turn on the traumas of childhood and dealing with family. "Then there's the time I went as Hitler for Halloween," begins Ryan Boudinot. David Drury gets childhood cruelty and suburban conformity down pat in "Things We Knew When the House Caught Fire." David Sedaris, funny as ever, offers up his family on his brother, Rooster's, wedding day, and Jonathan Safran Foer has a clever piece on the silences of family communication. More edgy are Douglas Light's wrenching story of abandoned sisters, J.T. Leroy's tale of an angry, ambitious, homeless boy, and Judy Budnitz' eerie, creepy story of a girl visiting her busted-up brother in the hospital.
The journalism is first rate, especially George Packer's fascinating exploration of what, exactly, happens to all those donated clothes, "How Susie Bayer's T-Shirt Ended Up on Yusuf Mama's Back;" and Chuck Closterman's profile of a tribute band, "The Pretenders."
Shorter pieces - Sherman Alexie's meditative "What Sacagawea Means to Me," as well as the Onion's humorous "I'll Try Anything with a Detached Air of Superiority," and Amanda Holzer's brief, smart, story in song titles - round out the mix.
Whether funny, grim, hip, winsome or informative, all these pieces are stimulating, gripping, thought-provoking. An excellent, well-balanced anthology.
Personally, I found this book an invaluable tool to judge the state of modern writing. This is the only "Best American" collection I own, and I think it is the most valuable. Whereas this one gets criticized for being "too hip" the others strike me as being too high-brow or revisionist. This collection shows what people ACTUALLY READ.
The story behind the book is that Eggers has a team of literary-minded high school students cull the best of everything they've read from the entire year. The works contained in this collection run the gamut from fiction, to journalism, to humor, to essays - it even includes a comic strip. What makes this book so indispensable for any aspiring writer is not only that it gives an idea of the current voice of writing and the new young authors who are writing it, but it also lists the publications where one can find them.
Among the new authors that this book has helped me to discover is the very young J.T. Leroy. The author of Blackhawk Down provides an incisive and disturbing biography Saddam Hussein. The always dependable David Sedaris provides a very funny account of his brother Rooster's wedding.
I would have felt I got my money's worth from the book if I had just read the forward by Eggers (the part we were supposed to "skip"). Eggers is one of the best, freshest voices in writing today. Even better is the introduction by Zadie Smith where she provides guidelines of "how to read", complete with a lot of useful quotes from literature.
Other pieces that I would highlight are: "Things We Knew When the House Caught Fire", "The Guide to Being a Groupie", "Love, and Other Catastrophes: A Mix Tape", "I'll Try Anything With a Detached Air of Superiority", "Rooster at the Hitchin' Post", and "Lost Boys". These are not the only pieces that I enjoyed, and as a whole, I would say that this collection was better than the first. There were fewer weaker pieces, and the Nonrequired Reading collection is one to look for every year.