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The Best American Essays 2000 (2000)

by Alan Lightman (Editor), Robert Atwan (Editor)

Other authors: André Aciman (Contributor), Robert Atwan (Foreword), Wendell Berry (Contributor), Ian Buruma (Contributor), Fred D'Aguiar (Contributor)18 more, Edwidge Danticat (Contributor), William H. Gass (Contributor), Mary Gordon (Contributor), Edward Hoagland (Contributor), Jamaica Kincaid (Contributor), Geeta Kothari (Contributor), Alan Lightman (Introduction), Richard McCann (Contributor), Cynthia Ozick (Contributor), Scott Russell Sanders (Contributor), Lynne Sharon Schwartz (Contributor), Peter A. Singer (Contributor), Floyd Skloot (Contributor), Mark Slouka (Contributor), Cheryl Strayed (Contributor), Andrew Sullivan (Contributor), Steven Weinberg (Contributor), Terry Tempest Williams (Contributor)

Series: The Best American Essays (2000), Best American (2000)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1932113,115 (3.95)4
As this acclaimed series celebrates its fifteenth year, Alan Lightman, the best-selling author of Einstein's Dreams, has assembled a diverse, very personal collection of the year's best short nonfiction, writings that celebrate the essay as an independent genre unlike any other.In his introduction, he declares that the ideal essay is "not an assignment, to be dispatched efficiently and intelligently, but an exploration, a questioning, an introspection ...It thrashes and moves, like all living things." These pieces embrace stylistic freedom and strong opinions while affording the reader a fascinating view of work in progress, offering a front-row seat as the writer's mind struggles with truth, memory, and experience.This year's selection features extraordinary essays by such renowned writers as Mary Gordon, Edward Hoagland, Jamaica Kincaid, and Wendell Berry as well by some talented new voices, on a delightfully dizzying variety of subjects.Andre Aciman wrestles with memories of remembering Paris, and William H.Gass delivers an exuberant defense of the printed book as a safe port in the data storms of the information age.Peter Singer views world poverty with an ethicist's eye, and Andrew Sullivan maps the spread of hate crimes in America."The qualities I treasure most about these essays are their authenticity and life," Lightman writes.As this volume of THE BEST AMERICAN ESSAYS demonstrates, this unique literary form continues to thrive as a creative outlet for some of America's finest writers.… (more)
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» See also 4 mentions

Showing 2 of 2
Best-selling author Alan Lightman selects the year’s finest nonfiction as this acclaimed series celebrates its fifteenth year. He has chosen a diverse, very personal collection that celebrates the essay as an independent genre unlike any other. This year’s pieces embrace stylistic freedom and strong opinions and afford the reader a fascinating view of the writer’s mind as it struggles with truth, memory, and experience. Featured writers include Jamaica Kincaid, Edward Hoagland, Cynthia Ozick, Mary Gordon, Edwidge Danticat, and others.
  LittleGreenBookshop | Mar 12, 2016 |
This is my second volume from the Best American "Essay" series. Out of the 24 essays or so only 6 stood out enough to mark them for later re-reading. I guess after 8 years since its publication some feel dated or not as relevant, but it's also possible to get a broader perspective of what has lasting value.

My six favorites are William Gass' "In Defense of the Book" (Harper's Magazine) which poetically describes the many ways books are superior to digital. This is a common theme among many writers but Gass approaches it in a new and original perspective, and without being Luddite. In Richard McCann's "The Resurrectionist" (Tin House) he describes what it was like to loose a kidney and have a transplant, I was really moved by his heroic fortitude and truth of experience. Peter Singer in "The Singer Solution to World Poverty" (New York Times Magazine) lays bare the ethical delima of rich nations and poor nations on a very personal level. He posits, what would you do if you could save a child from being hit by a train by sacrificing your car in its path (which contains all your worldly goods). Likewise he provocatively suggests individuals from rich countries should be sending excess wealth - beyond basic needs - to those in the poor countries. The essay "Gray Area: Thinking with a Damaged Brain" (Creative Nonfiction) is a fascinating first-person essay by Floyd Skloot who has a serious brain injury. He describes its effects both in an external social sense and inner self. Cheryl Strayed in "Heroin/e" (Doubletake) writes about her mothers death from cancer and her own subsequent degeneration into a serious heroin addiction. A dark, sad and aesthetically beautiful piece. Andrew Sullivan in "What's So Bad About Hate?" (The New York Times Magazine) discourses on what exactly is a "hate crime" and concludes there is no such thing, every person is motivated by complex inner motivations and not an external single emotion. Similar to the "war on terror", the "war on hate" is a war on an emotion that is misplaced and causes more problems than it solves.

--Review by Stephen Balbach, via CoolReading (c) 2008 cc-by-nd ( )
  Stbalbach | Sep 27, 2008 |
Showing 2 of 2
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Lightman, AlanEditorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Atwan, RobertEditormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Aciman, AndréContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Atwan, RobertForewordsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Berry, WendellContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Buruma, IanContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
D'Aguiar, FredContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Danticat, EdwidgeContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gass, William H.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gordon, MaryContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hoagland, EdwardContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Kincaid, JamaicaContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Kothari, GeetaContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Lightman, AlanIntroductionsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
McCann, RichardContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ozick, CynthiaContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Sanders, Scott RussellContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Schwartz, Lynne SharonContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Singer, Peter A.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Skloot, FloydContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Slouka, MarkContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Strayed, CherylContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Sullivan, AndrewContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Weinberg, StevenContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Williams, Terry TempestContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed

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As this acclaimed series celebrates its fifteenth year, Alan Lightman, the best-selling author of Einstein's Dreams, has assembled a diverse, very personal collection of the year's best short nonfiction, writings that celebrate the essay as an independent genre unlike any other.In his introduction, he declares that the ideal essay is "not an assignment, to be dispatched efficiently and intelligently, but an exploration, a questioning, an introspection ...It thrashes and moves, like all living things." These pieces embrace stylistic freedom and strong opinions while affording the reader a fascinating view of work in progress, offering a front-row seat as the writer's mind struggles with truth, memory, and experience.This year's selection features extraordinary essays by such renowned writers as Mary Gordon, Edward Hoagland, Jamaica Kincaid, and Wendell Berry as well by some talented new voices, on a delightfully dizzying variety of subjects.Andre Aciman wrestles with memories of remembering Paris, and William H.Gass delivers an exuberant defense of the printed book as a safe port in the data storms of the information age.Peter Singer views world poverty with an ethicist's eye, and Andrew Sullivan maps the spread of hate crimes in America."The qualities I treasure most about these essays are their authenticity and life," Lightman writes.As this volume of THE BEST AMERICAN ESSAYS demonstrates, this unique literary form continues to thrive as a creative outlet for some of America's finest writers.

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