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"[T]he best essays show that the name of the genre is also a verb"
November 14, 2012 12:36 PM   Subscribe

Robert Atwan, editor of the Best American Essays series, chooses the top ten essays since 1950 for PW's Tipsheet. All but three of the top essays are available to read online and linked in the article. (via)
posted by gladly (7 comments total) 36 users marked this as a favorite

 
DFW wrote some great humor/travel essays but I would put the state fair or cruise ship essays above consider the lobster.
posted by stbalbach at 12:43 PM on November 14, 2012


The Fourth State of Matter is one of the most devastatingly amazing pieces of writing I have read in my life. It blew my mind when I read it in the New Yorker in 1996, and I still remember to this day that feeling of having my mind blown.
posted by matildaben at 1:39 PM on November 14, 2012 [7 favorites]


Back before I had kids and still had money to burn, I used to buy the "Best Essays" series from Maruzen Bookstore in Kyoto - in those pre-Amazon shopping days they cost me about 3000 yen (roughty $30) for the softcover version, plus the cost of a train ticket to the city. While the "Best Short Stories' seem to become dated after a few years, the "Best Essays" never age, and I've discovered some fine writers and fine magazines (notably the American Prospect) through the series, as well as a deep admiration for American writing (I'm not from the States).

Edward Hoagland is one of my favourite writers who was consistently republished in the series, but sadly his essay is not available online. Which is okay, since I'm at my MIL's house in Japan for a few months, with 10 years of "Best American Essays" sitting on the shelf above me as I type this.

Great post, and I look forward to reading the essays linked to here.
posted by KokuRyu at 4:15 PM on November 14, 2012


The Fourth State of Matter is one of the most devastatingly amazing pieces of writing I have read in my life. It blew my mind when I read it in the New Yorker in 1996, and I still remember to this day that feeling of having my mind blown.

Thank you so much for highlighting this (and to gladly for this FPP). Mind also blown.
posted by availablelight at 4:35 PM on November 14, 2012


The Fourth State of Matter. Wow. The structure of it. Everything. Thanks for this post. This makes me want to find all the essays.

And I was vaguely aware of 'consider the lobster' but this is my first time reading it.

As a tourist, you become economically significant but existentially loathsome, an insect on a dead thing.

That's buried in the footnotes. Love it.
posted by univac at 7:58 PM on November 14, 2012


I'm a bit more than halfway through "The Fourth State of Matter" and it's one of those pieces of writing I never want to stop reading.
posted by brennen at 9:32 PM on November 14, 2012


...and yeah, god damn.
posted by brennen at 9:42 PM on November 14, 2012


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