Saturday, November 2, 2013

Best American Personal Essays 2013


The Best American Essays 2013The Best American Essays 2013 by Robert Atwan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for the opportunity to review this book!

The beauty of an annual collection with transient editors means that you get a wide variety. This year’s collection, edited by Cheryl Strayed, is all over the place in subjects, but rigid in its view: that is, the “I”. The literary “I.”  Still, I believe there’s something for everyone to like.

Though I couldn’t bear to read straight through as I do with all the other collections, I look back and see that I really liked 7 of the essays, sorta liked a few more, and only found two or three or five unbearable. That’s a pretty good ratio.

My favorites:  Triage, by John Kerstetter. Seems to be a universal favorite.  Night, by Alice Munro, also popular. The Book of Knowledge, by Steven Harvey. Sometimes a Romantic Notion, by Richard Schmitt. The Girls in My Town, by Angela Morales. Some Notes on Attunement, by Zadie Smith (not on most people’s lists). Ghost Estates, by John Jeremiah Sullivan, whence came my favorite line: “…the notion of survival as an act of imagination.”  Aha! Not only my personal theme, but the elusive theme of the collection.

I hope you will find some favorites, too.


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