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The Best American Essays 2006
Paperback
"The essays in this volume are powerful, plainspoken meditations on birthing, dying, and all the business in between," writes Lauren Slater in her introduction to the 2006 edition. "They reflect the best of what we, as a singular species, have to offer, which is reflection in a context of kindness. The essays tell hard-won tales wrestled sometimes from great pain."

The twenty powerful essays in this volume are culled from periodicals ranging from The Sun to The New Yorker, from Crab Orchard Review to Vanity Fair. In "Missing Bellow," Scott Turow reflects on the death of an author he never met, but one who "overpowered me in a way no other writer had." Adam Gopnik confronts a different kind of death, that of his five-year-old daughter's pet fish -- a demise that churns up nothing less than "the problem of consciousness and the plotline of Hitchock's Vertigo."

A pet is center stage as well in Susan Orlean's witty and compassionate saga of a successful hunt for a stolen border collie. Poe Ballantine chronicles a raw-nerved pilgrimage in search of salvation, solace, and a pretty brunette, and Laurie Abraham, in "Kinsey and Me," journeys after the man who dared to plumb the mysteries of human desire. Marjorie Williams gives a harrowing yet luminous account of her life with cancer, and Michele Morano muses on the grammar of the subjunctive mood while proving that "in language, as in life, moods are complicated, but at least in language there are only two."
9780618705290
$17.95
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The Best American Essays 2008
Paperback
Here you will find the finest essays “judiciously selected from countless publications” (Chicago Tribune), ranging from The New Yorker and Harper’s to Swink and Pinch. In his introduction to this year’s edition, Adam Gopnik finds that great essays have “text and inner text, personal story and larger point, the thing you’re supposed to be paying attention to and some other thing you’re really interested in.” David Sedaris’s quirky, hilarious account of a childhood spent yearning for a home where history was properly respected is also a poignant rumination on surviving the passage of time. In “The Ecstasy of Influence,” Jonathan Lethem ponders the intriguing phenomenon of cryptomnesia: a person believes herself to be creating something new but is really recalling similar, previously encountered work. Ariel Levy writes in “The Lesbian Bride’s Handbook” of her efforts to plan a party that accurately reflects her lifestyle (which she notes is “not black-tie!”) as she confronts head-on what it means to be married. And Lauren Slater is off to “Tripp Lake,” recounting the one summer she spent at camp—a summer of color wars, horseback riding, and the “wild sadness” that settled in her when she was away from home.
In the end, Gopnik believes that the only real ambition of an essayist is to be a master of our common life. This latest installment of The Best American Essays is full of writing that reveals, in Gopnik’s words, “the breath of things as they are.”
9780618983223
$19.95
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