Monday, September 27, 2010

Best American Essays 2010 Table of Contents

I haven't had a chance to read through it yet, but figured I'd post the Table of Contents here, as its nearly impossible to find anywhere else (every year they keep their contributor's a mystery, it's pretty bizarre):

Elif Batuman- The Murder of Leo Tolstoy (Harper's)
Toni Bentley- The Bad Lion (NY Review of Books)
Jane Churchon- The Dead Book (The Sun)
Brian Doyle- Irreconcilable Dissonance (Oregon Humanities)
John Gamel- The Elegant Eyeball (Alaska Quarterly Review)
Walter Isaacson- How Einstein Divided America's Jews (The Atlantic)
Steven L. Isenberg- Lunching on Olympus (The American Scholar)
Jane Kramer- Me, Myself, and I (The New Yorker)
Arthur Krystal- When Writers Speak (NY Times Book Review)
Matt Labash- A Rake's Progress (The Weekly Standard)
Phillip Lopate- Brooklyn the Unknowable (Harvard Review)
Ian McEwan- On John Updike (NY Review of Books)
Steven Pinker- My Genome, My Self (NY Times Magazine)
Ron Rindo- Gyromancy (Gettysburg Review)
David Sedaris- Guy Walks into a Bar Car (New Yorker)
Zadie Smith- Speaking in Tongues (NY Review of Books)
S. Frederick Starr- Rediscovering Central Asia (Wilson Quarterly)
John H. Summers- Gettysburg Regress (The New Republic)
John Edgar Wideman- Fatheralong (Harper's)
Garry Wills- Daredevil (The Atlantic)
James Wood- A Fine Range (The New Yorker)

Not sure what to think of this list yet, but I'm sure y'all will have your own reviews/thoughts. Mainly, I'm hoping that we won't get a dozen essays about the process of writing, as last year's edition felt pretty overwhelmed with the subject. As always, I find myself more drawn to the Notable Essays in the back, where one finds a more interesting variety (as well as a few familiar names/contributors to this blog, congratulations all.)


  1. I thought that odd too last year. Lots of writing about writing. Though Hampl's essay was pretty on point, I thought. Looking forward to this year's. I've been slowly working through every year of the BAE series since its inception and am planning to do a big essay about it when I'm done. Good times!

  2. I liked Hampl's essay too, but some of the other ones threw me for a loop (there was some jokey essay on how to compose nature writing, if I remember correctly). In any case, it made the collection feel like a collection of essays for writers, not readers, which troubled me in a way I can't fully articulate.

  3. The one thing I'd love to do with the Notables some year is to read ALL of them and assemble my own collection out of the notables. See how it compares. Perhaps there's an ebook idea in this somewhere. Or a class...

  4. I would like to point out that "Guy Walks into a Bar Car" was the essay I was preparing to copy in defense of my argument (from Craft '09) that Sedaris can write deeper than the humorous observation...

  5. Dleg,
    I thought that last year too about Mary Oliver's choices. All writing about writing. Really Mary Oliver? Here was a chance to really choose some cross-genred or less "The New Yorker" type essays and she selected "New Yorker" type, regular old essays.