Monday, May 24, 2010

Review of "Best American Magazine Writing 2001"

Overall, an excellent collection. Highlights by order of appearance:

Gretel Ehrlich's "The Endless Hunt" - about her experiences on the ice with her Greenland Inuit friends as they hunt for food. Harrowing stories.
Anthony Lane's "The Maria Problem" - A review of the "Singalong-a-Sound-of-Music" event along with an "appreciation" of the movie musical.
Rian Malan's "In the Jungle" - amazing in-depth investigation that uncovers one of pop music's great mysteries and tragedies.
Robert Kurson's "My Favorite Teacher" - Kurson tries to grapple with the fact that his high school biology teacher and role model is a serial sex offender convicted of murdering a teenage hitchhiker.
David Foster Wallace's "The Weasel, Twelve Monkeys and the Shrub" - a dense yet incisive look at the 2000 McCain presidential campaign and what it means to be a journalist covering it, what it means to be a potential voter caught in it. A stark contrast to his 2008 campaign.
Malcolm Gladwell's "The Pitchman" - a profile that is as engaging as its subject, Ron Popeil.
William Langewiesche's "The Million-Dollar Nose" - another profile, but accordingly, of a different flavor that is no less interesting than Popeil. This one is on the influential American wine critic, Robert Parker.
Elizabeth Gilbert's "The Ghost" - an amazing look at Hank Williams III and his struggles to deal with his grandfather and father's legacy while marking his own path as a musician.
Lewis H. Lapham's "Stupor Mundi" - a wonderful essay on Patrick O'Brian, author of the "Master & Commander" series. This can induce anyone to seek out O'Brian's work.
Donna Tartt's "The Glory of J.F. Powers" - a critical essay/review that coincides with the reprint of Powers' stories, which had a decidedly unromantic view of priests and the Catholic church.

Also worth reading for certain aspects:
Bill Vaughn's "Skating Backwards" - a humorous chronicle of Vaughn's efforts to transform a patch of polluted swamp into a cozy, clean pond.
Sean Flynn's "The Perfect Fire" - a tragic tale of a warehouse fire that claimed the lives of six firefighters.
Anne Fadiman's "Mail" - a personal essay on handwritten letters just as email began to take over people's lives via AOL.
Robert Olen Butler's "Fair Warning" - a short story about a young female auctioneer who can sell anything yet cannot find love.
Donald L. Barrett and James B. Steele's "Big Money & Politics," "Soaked by Congress," Throwing the Game" - a series of articles that examines how campaign finance and lobbying efforts prove detrimental to the average US citizen.
Jonathan Gold's "Paris on the Hudson" - a fun review of New York's Pastis restaurant.
James Wolcott's "Forever Young" - a critical appreciation for the work and legacy of the singer and entertainer, Bobby Darin.

(From my Goodreads review.)

Tags: , , , ,

Powered by Qumana

No comments: