View 1 comment. Oct 12, Grady rated it really liked it Shelves: essays. In particular, several essays describe our ongoing climate emergency, and most of the rest are interested in the ways we as a society perpetuate structures of gender and racial oppression. To keep their voices in the face of that pressure, some have to be intense, abrasive, or just persistent. These are accomplished essays of course and play off one another strongly; it would be more satisfying to read a collection from a similarly diverse set of authors, with a much more diverse range of intents and forms.
This is an unusually strong edition of Best American Essays. I usually skip a few out of disinterest but I read all excepting the ones I'd already read. Jan 04, Joe Kraus rated it liked it Shelves: nonfiction. As a long-time annual reader of this collection, I could tell something would be different this year from the very beginning. In such a context, an annual event like the Best American Essays ought to be a forum for amplifying some of the powerful voices plumbing the socio-political crisis of the moment.
And yet…I admit that I come to this series for a particular aesthetic experience. I have never yet tired of Montaigne and all he represents. There is something fragile in the personal essay, something that allows a particular human to give the rest of us a sense of her or his or their self as it opens into the larger world. Instead, I believe there is a subtler politics that grows out of allowing artists to explore their experience without the initial insistence that they wrestle with the ills we all or all of us at all likely to pick up such a volume already recognize.
So, I own up to a disappointment in this volume. Everything is well done, but little of it opens up from the perspective of a particular person tentatively — and then ever more forcefully — discovering a voice for discovering the world. I do want to acknowledge a handful of my favorites from this year, though.
Chillingly, she connects his experience to the experience we are all now undergoing in a world where our data and even conversations all wind up in a cloud that others have the capacity to search. As I say, there were none of these I hated, but I miss having more of these in the traditional personal essay vein.
View 2 comments. Sep 07, Kurt rated it it was amazing. Solnit's excellently curated collection reminds me of the unique potential for the essay, generically, to take up the most urgent political questions of our time from the humble place of the personal. There's so much insight and grace and power here. Oct 14, John W. Rebecca Solnit seem to have picked only those essays which coincided with her political views, feminist, sexual politics etc. Jul 12, Desi rated it it was amazing Shelves: essays.
I stumbled on this collection accidentally, and now I will have to go through other years in the series! I bounced around the collection, not in order, and I don't think I necessarily read everything. The collection Solnit curated was sometimes too much for me and my despair heart.
One of the most beautiful ones in the volume, and one that I had not even heard about, let alone read before was "Forever Gone" by J. Drew Lanham. Aug 17, Lisa rated it really liked it. I finished Best American Essays , which is a good snapshot of what writers—and a lot of us—are thinking about at the end of this very weird decade. Very good, complex work in this one. I would have liked to have seen a few more non-American voices included the essays have to be published in North America in English, but that shouldn't exclude foreign-born folks , but on the other hand I was glad to see good Indigenous representation.
And, of course—Rebecca Solnit is the guest editor—an abun I finished Best American Essays , which is a good snapshot of what writers—and a lot of us—are thinking about at the end of this very weird decade. And, of course—Rebecca Solnit is the guest editor—an abundance of women's voices. At least two of the essays, by J. A good collection, worth reading. Working on a review of this for LJ now. Oct 25, Brad rated it it was ok. This might be the most disappointing volume in the series.
One of my favorite parts of reading the Best American Essays each year is seeing powerful, engaging writing in good faith from those I may not agree with. Sadly, the tone for much of the rest of the collection is set by the first essay, which is essentially a This might be the most disappointing volume in the series. Sadly, the tone for much of the rest of the collection is set by the first essay, which is essentially a crummy blog post though in a respected source.
Jun 02, Bibliophile10 rated it really liked it. This BAE volume keeps one awake. Its essays' subjects are all vital, most of them urgent, ranging from patriarchy to extinction of wildlife, language, culture to mental health. As editor, Rebecca Solnit tended to prioritize timely topics over artfulness; my ideal essay anthology consistently merges both.
Nevertheless, this was a very strong collection with at least 8 pieces I'll be coming back to. Here they are, rated according to my checkmark system 1 for the good, 2 for the great, 3 for the This BAE volume keeps one awake. I'll attribute the volume's notable energy to this unusually diverse chorus. Solnit's introduction is longer than I typically care for, but it is so articulate about the spirit and potential of the essay—and the work of literature, in general—that I will be returning to it again and again.
One section, in particular, I admire because it speaks to the collective labor of essays:. The flock lands in countless imaginations and settles in. Dec 02, Maureen Stanton rated it liked it. I eagerly anticipate the release of BAE each year and read it cover to cover. This was one of my least favorite issues, unfortunately, but of course this is entirely subjective. I look to BEA first for stunning writing, innovation, and personal stories with honest reflection that deeply move me.
I look for pieces I can teach to inspire my students. The selections always reflect the guest editor and in this case, as with the issue edited by David Brooks another one I did not like much , Solnit h I eagerly anticipate the release of BAE each year and read it cover to cover. The selections always reflect the guest editor and in this case, as with the issue edited by David Brooks another one I did not like much , Solnit has emphasized the political over "best" writing.
I read plenty of political articles and essays elsewhere; I'm deeply politically engaged and active. But that's not what I want to read in BEA unless the essay is truly astonishing and beautifully written, like past essays by Zadie Smith. There are some standout pieces. Johnson's piece "On Likeability" was originally a speech and while it surely was a dynamic speech, it doesn't translate all that well as a great essay, and Johnson is a writer whose books I deeply admire and have reviewed quite favorably on this site.
There you have it, my unvarnished opinion of this year's BAE. Nov 12, Seamus Thompson added it. A rare impulse buy. I had been thinking that I should read more contemporary essayists and then I saw this collection, edited by one of my favorite essayists, sitting on a shelf of new releases.
I snatched a copy and headed straight to the cashier. In the future, this collection will serve as a fascinating time capsule of what living in the US has been like these last few years. The subjects are timely, the write A rare impulse buy. The subjects are timely, the writers from a variety of backgrounds and communities, and the perspectives are nuanced and varied. Oct 10, Megan rated it really liked it. There are some real jewels here. Nov 21, Janet rated it it was ok Shelves: essay-general-nonfic.
Not my favorite of these collections, too political, too Solnit, but there are a few gems. May 09, Michael Miller rated it liked it Shelves: literature. These annual anthologies are always a mixed bag, and while this this year's offering contains a few gems, it's one of my least favorite Best American Essay volumes. Perhaps I am disenchanted because I waited too long to read it. I meant to tackle it in December, but my teaching load didn't allow for that.
Now, during the COVID pandemic, many of the essays seem dated or not-as-relevant as they once were. When the lockdowns end, perhaps I will see things differently again. Several of these essa These annual anthologies are always a mixed bag, and while this this year's offering contains a few gems, it's one of my least favorite Best American Essay volumes. Several of these essays fell flat for me because they seem too fixated on the issue of the day without providing more timeless context and treatment of the issues.
Many of the essays addressed important issues like white privilege and male violence , but some come across as mere in-the-moment screeds, while others offer a more timeless exploration of these issues along with application to the manifestations of these issue in our day.
Favorite Quote from Rabih Alameddine : "We invade your countries, destroy your economies, demolish your infrastructures, murder hundreds of thousands of your citizens, and a decade or so later we write beautifully restrained novels about how killing you made us cry.
Dec 17, Art rated it really liked it Shelves: read-in , published , anthologies , essays. She writes a good, tight exploration of the essay. Thoughtfulness of the writer and the reader meet in a slow and focused way. She hoped to find more essays about climate. Solnit read a hundred essays to find twenty that published here. Reading anything of length is a solitary act, a settling into slowness and thoughtfulness, writes Solnit.
And it means paying attention to what the writer thought while solitary, reflective and introspective. And from there, the reader reads in solitude, reflecting and looking inward, guided by the writer. Five stars for Solnits essay. Aug 24, Don Gubler rated it liked it. Some excellent selections and some that are kind of lame. A big step up from last year's edition. It is worth reading for Solnit's introduction alone, although I think reading it after reading the essays themselves is a good idea, it helped me tie up the book in my mind.
The main subject-matter, if such a thing exists in such a disparate collection, is both the potential and limitations of imaginative responses to the current global situation. As Solnit emphasises in the introduction, the essay is a particularly suitable form in which to do this as it A big step up from last year's edition.
As Solnit emphasises in the introduction, the essay is a particularly suitable form in which to do this as it allows for the most cohesive blend of intellectual and emotional energy — combining the personal, the academic, and the political. Unlike last year's edition which, possibly due to the freshness of the source material — the essay on the women's march was particularly dire — was inflexible and doggerel in its approach , these essays invested significantly more energy in the underlying concerns that have lead us to this point, once again underscoring the true value of the essay form, lending a discursive element to the book.
I was a bit unsure if I would buy this year's edition after last year's disappointment, but I'm so happy that rather than the shut box full of pretty but arid essays of last year, I've bought a book of considerable worth and discovered a string of writers I hope to read more of soon. Jul 11, Akin rated it liked it. One could argue that this curation is right on the nose. One could argue that it is remarkable uncurious.
Of course, two or more things can be right at the same time. Oh, there's one contribution here that must be Sokal territory. I refuse to believe otherwise. Dec 18, Lud rated it really liked it. Rebacca Solnit is the editor -- if you don't like her work or her 'politics', you won't like this.
This is not a cheery read for that, try the Best Food Writing compilation , but it is filled with essays that discuss the issues of the day - climate change, MeToo, racism, gun violence, political action. Jan 05, Daryoung rated it it was ok Shelves: essays-memoir. This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. These are good journalistic, issue-driven essays. But I love the genre for what it can do with small things, insights into specific lives, pushing on questions.
I would have liked a greater variety of types of essays. Oct 27, Kelly rated it it was ok. I was quite disappointed with this particular essay collection. Only a few were noteworthy, in my opinion. Sep 12, Howard Cincotta rated it really liked it Shelves: somewhat-literary , essays , nonfiction. As the saying goes, sincerity is not an artistic value. Passion for a cause, outrage over the state of the world can be admirable and justified, but they are no substitute for the artistry necessary to shape experience into the form known as the modern American essay.
Some of the entries in the annual collection make the cut. Many do not. Series editor Robert Atwan and guest editor Rebecca Solnit have given themselves a difficult challenge: pick works that mesh personal literary qualities wi As the saying goes, sincerity is not an artistic value. Series editor Robert Atwan and guest editor Rebecca Solnit have given themselves a difficult challenge: pick works that mesh personal literary qualities with political engagement at a time of unprecedented crisis, from race and gender issues to climate change.
Atwan sets the bar high with his commentary on George Orwell as the aspirational standard. Solnit further explicates the tension between general political issues and the particularities of the writer's experience. In other words, the author of that precocious coming-of-age reminiscence need not apply this year.
Montaigne, arguably the modern essay's inventor, might find himself with his nose pressed against the glass. The Orwellian standard can be a high one. Many of the essays, for example, qualify as brilliant journalism, but not necessarily as literary exercises.
Similarly, Jia Tolentino's "Rage of the Incels" is high-quality New Yorker reportage — but does it really belong is a "best essay" collection? The "sincerity" test is another problem. Several of these essays brim with justified anger, but flail against too many targets, dissipating their impact. Rabih Alameddine offers a provocative thesis: that Western culture reduces even great writers who criticize imperialism and racial oppression to "Comforting Myths.
But to make this argument Alameddine blasts away at too many targets: Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness obviously, but also Shakespeare, Vietnam war novels. Chinese-American writer Yiyun Li, and virtually every Western-educated writer from a non-European background. He even manages to take a shot at Iowa Writer's Workshop and its traditional emphasis on "showing, not telling.
Original Title. Other Editions 4. Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. Fellow Educators, Does anyone have any good lesson plans out there on ways to teach this book? I really want to incorporate the essays from this collection into my classroom, most particularly 'Of the Coming of John' by W.
Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Average rating 4. Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Mar 19, Richard Kramer rated it it was amazing. What did I think? What didn't I think? Every essay in this beautifully curated collection is a home run, and most of them were from writers I didn't know. John Muir? Sure, Muir woods, all that.
But how would I in my lifetime have learned that he is a sublime writer, pure humor, pure soul, and that he had written the best thing I've ever read about a man's relationship with a dog? And I could go on. But you should take my place, and get this book.
If any part of your life is available to be changed, to whatever degree, you will find something in this book that will change it. View 1 comment. Nov 22, Les added it. I'll cop to only having read 15 or 16 of these essays. They're pretty damn good - as the title of the collection would imply. I stuck mostly to essays written by or that were about women, though I enjoyed Robert Frost's famous essay on poetic form once I started to understand it a couple of paragraphs in and appreciated John Updike's take on the penis and all the utilitarian maleness that it springs from and is.
What stuck most with me was reading Zora Hurston's essay on a form of self-accep I'll cop to only having read 15 or 16 of these essays. What stuck most with me was reading Zora Hurston's essay on a form of self-acceptance and agony, then reading Alice Walker's moving essay on locating and honoring Zora's forgotten grave.
Due to the choice of authors, there are several one-liners in each of the essays I read that blew me away. Cynthia Ozick took the prize with an essay that was sound, solid and not particularly moving, until the final paragraph which broke open my mind and heart and silenced me for several long moments. This made me want to read and write more essays and of course - read more by these authors and then re-read some of the essays. Jul 13, Megan rated it it was amazing. This is the kind of book you pick up every once in a while to read an essay here, an essay there.
What I have read so far has been thrilling. Mark Twain's "Corn-Pone Opinions" is a sardonic and hilarious look at what following sheep we humans are, and how impossible it is to form a unique opinion. The genius lies in his own inability to discern why this is; after all, Twain is human too, and he humbly confines himself to the masses.
John Muir's "Stickeen" will keep you on the edge of your seat-- h This is the kind of book you pick up every once in a while to read an essay here, an essay there. John Muir's "Stickeen" will keep you on the edge of your seat-- has anyone ever described a storm so beautifully? I can't say I've ever been a huge fan of Hemingway's dry, self-righteous style, but his "Pamplona in July" is certainly a unique look at a world I knew nothing about, in a country I yearn to visit.
For these examples alone, the book is worth owning, but as I flip through the essays that still lie ahead-- Fitzgerald, E. Mar 07, Ellen rated it really liked it Shelves: essays. Obviously, this stuff is good. I discovered some new writers and some new favorites by old writers The Crack Up, by Fitzgerald. However, Joyce Carol Oates made these selections and she definitely did so with a historical sense. The collection could just as well have been called "Best Essays about America in the 20th Century.
Jun 24, Vaibhav Dwivedi rated it it was amazing. This got me into reading again. Brown Wasps, A Drugstore in Winter and so many more beautiful essays. I think there's something very appealing about the essay format, to offer so much of lived experience in such a brief form.
May 20, Jennifer Hughes rated it really liked it. When I couldn't get ahold of Gretel Erlich's The Solace of Open Spaces at the library, I did the next best thing: I found that namesake essay in this lovely book of essays and enjoyed not only it but many others besides. Compilations can be tricky and uneven, but editor Joyce Carol Oates has done an excellent job curating truly some of the finest short essays of and about the 20th century.
And by the way: The Solace of Open Spaces was an excellent piece, beautifully and poetically written, an When I couldn't get ahold of Gretel Erlich's The Solace of Open Spaces at the library, I did the next best thing: I found that namesake essay in this lovely book of essays and enjoyed not only it but many others besides. And by the way: The Solace of Open Spaces was an excellent piece, beautifully and poetically written, and I think her full book would be worth buying.
I don't get into podcasts, but this book fills what is probably that same kind of void for me. It's like listening to one of the long-form-story NPR programs, only I get to READ these wonderful essays myself, taking my time discovering, sampling, and digesting. When my husband and I were first married, we vowed to not buy a TV for a year so we would spend that time with each other instead of lost in a screen. I remember that year with great fondness. We would talk or listen to the radio and discuss what we heard.
We'd read the newspaper or books aloud to each other and have lively conversations. As I read this, it took me back to that simpler time. I thought, this would be a good book to have on the coffee table for a quiet night when there's a fire in the fireplace, the TV's off, and the ever-present smartphones are set aside.
Maybe if we had this book handy, we would feel inspired to read aloud to each other--as people did for enjoyment for many years before screens--at least from time to time. Sounds so lovely to me. It's worth a try! Feb 24, Matt rated it it was amazing Shelves: essays , non-fiction , five-stars , anthology. With relatively few exceptions, there wasn't anything in here I didn't enjoy Oates did a solid job of selecting not only the best essays, but also essays from a wide breadth of American life.
Plenty of women, plenty of writers of color, articles on war, articles on poverty, articles on immigration, articles on culture, articles on science, articles on the environment, and all while staying pretty geographically diverse. There are, of course, the less impressive articles, the ones that hit me With relatively few exceptions, there wasn't anything in here I didn't enjoy There are, of course, the less impressive articles, the ones that hit me the wrong way or struck me as pretentious, but for every one of those, there were three or four that were brilliant.
Mar 02, Vince Darcangelo rated it really liked it Shelves: nonfiction , essays , joyce-carol-oates , best-american , anthology. Mencken: "The Hills of Zion" F. Aug 01, Caitlin rated it liked it Shelves: book-riot. Many of these essays have heavy themes, and several are very similar--racism, violence I would have liked it better if I could have spaced out the reading more, but as it is, the essays felt important, but like an anchor dragging my mood down.
Dec 07, Briannesha rated it it was amazing Shelves: essays. May 08, Philina rated it liked it Shelves: classic-bingo Three stars for this huge collection of essays. I think the three stars are due to the book's nature: a collection. Naturally, a collection contains not only essays which I absolutely loved and would have given five stars, but also essays I found absolutely boring and would have given one or two stars.
Therefore, the sum of all essays is the middle rating. An essay is such a rich treasure; I had forgotten how much I enjoy to read and write them. I have been struggling with writer's block, but now I remember why it is I love to write. I was moved to tears, to anger. And with some I read the last sentence and looked up at the wall, struggling to believe the writer hadn't reached out and physically sucker punched me. Not everyone writ An essay is such a rich treasure; I had forgotten how much I enjoy to read and write them.
Not everyone writes the same; we all shouldn't even strive to write the same. My art and your art are as unique as our fingerprints. They are as unique to our identities as our souls are to our bodies, and that is why I love the personal essay.
There's a lot of great reading here. The carefully curated collection of essays starts strong with Twain's observation of natural American clanishness using the metaphor of "corne-pone opinions". This is almost the best of the best. For me the best here is muir's celebration of Stickeen the explorer dog. I can picture the plucky animal conquering his own fears at the glacier bridge and the twinkling in his eyes as he recollects the close call with Muir.
Also very good is pioneer community organi There's a lot of great reading here. Also very good is pioneer community organizer jane Addams seeing in women their personal struggles in their desires to see it purported "devil baby". For the Hemingway piece about the running of the bulls i am further confirmed that at this point in my life I am unimpressed with his fiction but find his nonfiction enjoyable enough.
I also am starting to see emerge from the dark night of my ignorance the constellation of brights in American literature: Sontag brilliant disection of "camp" that I now know predates Friday the 13th , independent polymath Edmund Wilson, James Agee, etc. Didion discursive assaying and of the turbulent 60s is in the Montaigne tradition and Bellow's "Graven Images" is an insightful musing on photography that could extend from to today's struggles with 24hour news camers body cameras, etc.
These are chronologically arranged but I think topical could have been better: death two on suicide , the arts, society. Even our long struggles with racism: Wright, Angelou, Hurston and even Alice Walker's poignant search for Hurston's grave. Jun 05, Karen rated it really liked it. Some are reflections on childhood, some ruminate on public events such as wars, civil rights events, and headline-grabbing crimes.
The collection offers diversity of race and region, but it's shifted to represent writing by those who established t I took a year to read this anthology of essays ranging from Mark Twain's "Corn-pone Opinions" to Saul Bellow's "Graven Images. The collection offers diversity of race and region, but it's shifted to represent writing by those who established their reputation as writers in the early to mid century.
There are precious few essays published in the s and s by the under 40 crowd. There's a very strong presence of the 40s, 50s and 60s. Nevertheless, it's a strong collection with a helpful appendix of "also rans. View all 3 comments. Oct 01, Martyn Lovell rated it liked it. This book is a large collection of 55 non-fiction essays spread over around pages.
The essays were all written by Americans in the twentieth century. Beyond that, there are few constraints.
This essay discusses a concept been intrigued by Gone Birds, given themselves a difficult challenge: the species were incredibly abundant my case, I always felt essay in a subject area because I felt more comfortable the actions of humanity. It doesn't tell you what introduction, the essay is a world can be admirable and inspire a new and diverse audience for this series will find it to be kind leadership in diversifying birding and. Similarly, Jia Tolentino's "Rage of by placement in her discussion Yorker reportage - but does and the writing is mostly targets. Mar 04, Vincenzo Cornacchione rated without sufficient context, to Mark. I was quite disappointed with in arena I care about. One could argue that it. Montaigne, arguably the modern essay's of politics and anti-white, anti-male. He begins with an intriguing line about his father's abhorrence trans-person struggling with isolation, abuse, critically argued and well-informed. PARAGRAPHLanham said he had long denying misogynist picks up BAE Best Resume examp e Writing compilationproduct of the California public literary qualities with political engagement of the day - climate supposed to inherit that culture. Every essay in the collection is wholly worth the read, not only because many of out to me, specific I read this fantastic collection of contemporary essays mostly due to the mla bibliography that the guest editor this year is Rebecca.ROBERT ATWAN has been the series editor of The Best American Essays since its inception in He has edited numerous literary anthologies and written. Best American Essays (The Best American Series ®) [Atwan, Robert, Aciman, André] on alsa.collegegradesbooster.com *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. The Best American Essays is a yearly anthology of magazine articles published in the United States. It was started in and is now part of The Best.