The Best American Essays 2007

The Best American Essays The twenty two essays in this powerful collection perhaps the most diverse in the entire series come from a wide variety of periodicals ranging from n and PMS to the New Republic and The New Yorker

  • Title: The Best American Essays 2007
  • Author: David Foster Wallace Robert Atwan
  • ISBN: 9780618709274
  • Page: 400
  • Format: Paperback
  • The twenty two essays in this powerful collection perhaps the most diverse in the entire series come from a wide variety of periodicals, ranging from n 1 and PMS to the New Republic and The New Yorker, and showcase a remarkable range of forms Read on for narrative in first and third person opinion, memoir, argument, the essay review, confession, reportage, eThe twenty two essays in this powerful collection perhaps the most diverse in the entire series come from a wide variety of periodicals, ranging from n 1 and PMS to the New Republic and The New Yorker, and showcase a remarkable range of forms Read on for narrative in first and third person opinion, memoir, argument, the essay review, confession, reportage, even a dispatch from Iraq The philosopher Peter Singer makes a case for philanthropy the poet Molly Peacock constructs a mosaic tribute to a little known but remarkable eighteenth century woman artist the novelist Marilynne Robinson explores what has happened to holiness in contemporary Christianity the essayist Richard Rodriguez wonders if California has anything left to say to America and the Harvard biologist Edward O Wilson attempts to find common ground with the evangelical community.In his introduction, David Foster Wallace makes the spirited case that many of these essays are valuable simply as exhibits of what a first rate artistic mind can make of particular fact sets whether these involve the 17 kHz ring tones of some kids cell phones, the language of movement as parsed by dogs, the near infinity of ways to experience and describe an earthquake, the existential synecdoche of stagefright, or the revelation that most of what you ve believed and revered turns out to be self indulgent crap.

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    David Foster Wallace Robert Atwan

    David Foster Wallace worked surprising turns on nearly everything novels, journalism, vacation His life was an information hunt, collecting hows and whys I received 500,000 discrete bits of information today, he once said, of which maybe 25 are important My job is to make some sense of it He wanted to write stuff about what it feels like to live Instead of being a relief from what it feels like to live Readers curled up in the nooks and clearings of his style his comedy, his brilliance, his humaneness.His life was a map that ends at the wrong destination Wallace was an A student through high school, he played football, he played tennis, he wrote a philosophy thesis and a novel before he graduated from Amherst, he went to writing school, published the novel, made a city of squalling, bruising, kneecapping editors and writers fall moony eyed in love with him He published a thousand page novel, received the only award you get in the nation for being a genius, wrote essays providing the best feel anywhere of what it means to be alive in the contemporary world, accepted a special chair at California s Pomona College to teach writing, married, published another book and, last month Sept 2008 , hanged himself at age 46 excerpt from The Lost Years Last Days of David Foster Wallace by David Lipsky in Rolling Stone Magazine October 30, 2008.Among Wallace s honors were a Whiting Writers Award 1987 , a Lannan Literary Award 1996 , a Paris Review Aga Khan Prize for Fiction 1997 , a National Magazine Award 2001 , three O Henry Awards 1988, 1999, 2002 , and a MacArthur Foundation Genius Grant.More thehowlingfantods dfw

    683 Comment

    • I suppose I shouldn't be rating this because I didn't read all the essays, but I did skim the ones I didn't read fully.I originally checked this out of the library merely to read Jo Ann Beard's "Werner," which was great and on its own deserves 5 stars. It reads like a short story, which is probably one of the reasons I liked it so much. The style of Daniel Orozco's "Shakers" was different and interesting. I also liked Jerald Walker's "Dragon Slayers," which I'm guessing is the one that guest-edi [...]

    • I was reticent to pick up this anthology. While I generally buy whatever comes out in theThe Best American Serieseach year, this years editor of the American Essays, David Wallace Foster, is a writer I don't particularly care for. Truthfully, I think his writing is on a different level than most. He is extremely smart, and very witty. Stylistically, he writes like the whole universe exists purely so we can read his words. And that's basically what I dislike about him. I don't really care for how [...]

    • Picked this up dirt cheap at Powell's back in February and finally read it. Mainly was interested in DFW's introductory essay, but I wound up very much liking some of the selections and reading the anthology cover to cover. The essay "Operation Gomorrah," which is about the Allied firebombing of Hamburg in World War II, inspired me to pick up about five extra copies of the book to share with friends.The other balls-out stand-up essays in the book are "Shakers" by Daniel Orozco, and "In the Mosqu [...]

    • I thought the first half of the book (the 11 essays ending with Louis Menand's) was mediocre and probably worthy of 2 stars. I thought the second half of the book (the 11 essays beginning with Daniel Orozco's) was excellent and probably worthy of 4 stars. So, as a result, this book gets 3 stars from me.Being someone who isn't afraid to quit a book after 100 pages or so, I was surprised by DFW's decision to put the best 11 essays at the end of the book and the worst 11 at the beginning. I mean, I [...]

    • Best of the BestDavid Foster Wallace's introduction is even more poignant and reflective about our culture after his passing earlier this year.Danner's essay on the Iraq war is a complex, nuanced, insightful look at the reasons for going to war and the reasons the public was told that the US was going to war.Keizer's essay on gun rights / violence didn't necessarily change my opinions on the issue but did help me empathize with the other side.Lahr's essay about stagefright is anecdotally amusing [...]

    • holy disappointment. i love DFW, so i picked this up. i read his introduction and 9 of the 22 "essays". his intro was vintage DFW. the best thing in the book. great. hilarious, insightful, perceptive, informative. so imagine how excited i was to read 22 essays that this master essayist said he "envied" because they did things with language that he "only wished that he could do".of the 9 that i read, the first "essay" in the book, Werner, was by far the best. five stars. the only thing is that if [...]

    • I'm about halfway through David Foster Wallace's 2007 essay selections. Sometimes I feel as if I'm reading the Sunday paper--opinion pieces about torture and war, pedophilia and dog hypnosis. My mind reels and it's a slow journey. An afternoon of WWII bombings sent me on a week-long hiatus, for example. But this collection suits me, too. After reading _The Kitchen God's Wife_ and basically hating it, I've been trying to understand the nature of violence. In his intro, Wallace describes the essay [...]

    • I like to keep editions of this series around in the guest bedroom for sleepless nights and random perusal. I never read the whole thing, as there are always topics that don't interest me or writing styles that don't appeal. This one seems to be full of Bush/Iraq stuff that might have been engaging at the time but I think I will skip them as I am still weary of war talk.

    • A solid collection of essays. Favourites include Werner, What the Dog Saw, Petrified, and Rules of Engagement.

    • A better than average collection of essays, with some true standouts. Interestingly, one of those standouts was the introduction from guest editor David Foster Wallace, reminding me of just how awesome he was and what we are missing now that he is gone. Of the 4 Best American series I read, the Essays series is of course the one most rooted in place and time. So as I work my way backwards in time, the Essays have an interesting layer of review as I read from my "future" perspective on familiar e [...]

    • There are a few fantastic essays in this compilation, particularly from Malcolm Gladwell and Phillip Robertson. But you owe it to yourself and everything you hold precious in this world to get off your ass and go read Daniel Orozco's "Shakers", a truly sublime piece of writing.

    • Every once in a while, I get a powerful urge to read a _whole bunch_ of really good essays. The form fascinates me, and I love that the blogging revolution has kicked off a new golden age for it. But the thing about blogs, even the best ones, is that they're more or less uncurated, and the best treasures drift through the feeds with no more fanfare than the clicks and hisses of daily life do. It's not a good medium for bingeing. Thus, the only thing to do when the hunger hits is to hole up with [...]

    • I agree with many of the other reviewers here--this edition was unusually political, very in tune with DFW's own preoccupations (and my own), but that leaves it feeling a bit dated as of 2017. I didn't read all of them, but my favorites were Passion Flowers in Winter by Molly Peacock and What Should a Billionaire Give-and What Should You? by Peter Singer. I also liked Mark Greif's Afternoon of the Sex Children (although more for the premise than the execution) and Daniel Orozco's Shakers.

    • In his editor's introduction, David Foster Wallace notes that most people he knows treat these anthologies like Whitman Samplers. It's an apt comparison, and this volume offers a particularly tasty and substantive collection of treats. Wallace believes that the U.S. is in a state of emergency--that, for example, "There is just no way that 2004's re-election could have taken place if we had been paying attention and handling information in a competent grown-up way." His selections for the book, [...]

    • A typical anthology in this series has about two dozen essays and merits a 3-star rating. This book is no exception. With essays by Ian Buruma, Malcolm Gladwell, Cynthia Ozick, Marilynne Robinson, Richard Rodriguez, Elaine Scarry, Louis Menand, John Lahr, Peter Singer, Edward O. Wilson, and an introduction by David Foster Wallace, there is no shortage of big-name contributors. Unfortunately, name recognition doesn't always guarantee quality and, for me, the gems in this collection came from auth [...]

    • The "more matter, less art" edition of this series, DFW chose more pieces of investigative journalism than anything else. There's nothing wrong with that, but perhaps another series titled "Best American Investigative Journalism" or "Best American Political Manifestos" could be initiated? I hate to take on DFW at this date, but his assertion in the introduction, essentially that memoir/personal essays are uninteresting in a time of war, is just wrong. It was precisely a lack of understanding of [...]

    • this collection was okay. wallace's introduction was probably the most entertaining. the intro speaks of his (in his opinion) really useless job. he chooses essays he liked from a stack of finalists, is pressured by the series editor (who clearly had an anti-bush/anti-torture agenda) to include some essays that wallace may not have put in if left to his own devices. of the essays he mentioned in the intro, werneriraq:the war of the imaginationa carnivore's credowhat should a billionaire give - a [...]

    • Tiffoknee the 3rd Conner

      (Feb 26, 2020 - 00:28 AM)

      I'm addicted to this series. While the writing is not always nearly as ambitious as I would like it to be, there is usually an essay or two which stops me dead in my tracks and leaves me wanting. I find it's a nice way to discovery new, emerging essayists, and go out and read more of their work. Here's an excerpt from one of the essays I finished recently:"That was a time when you still heard people whistling everywhere, in hospital corridors and buses, in workplaces and on the street[ . . .] It [...]

    • Of the Best American collections I have read, this one is my least favorite. Wallace describes the mission of this collection in arguably the best essay of the book, which is ironically the introduction. He states that the essays above all have taught him "how to think" in this world. Though admirable for its ambition, many of the essays are more successful at fulfilling an agenda than at evoking a range of emotions within the reader. The words Iraq War, torture and liberal feature many times, s [...]

    • I really enjoy this series, as it was introduced to me many years ago. If I see one I haven't read, I will give it a shot.I didn't love this one.Usually the focus of these works, as chosen by a guest editor, is on writing that is beautiful, moving, it has some big revelation to be obtained.This isn't the route Wallace took. The essays he chose are not bad, but they're not what a typical Beat American Essay reader looks for.First, most of the articles are political in nature. The topics of tortur [...]

    • In lieu of a traditional composition reader, I decided to trust my students to know what to take from these essays to improve their academic writing and what to leave. I started reading the collection in preparation for the class on September 3. On September 12, when I was about halfway through guest editor David Foster Wallace's introduction, he took his own life. It was at least a week or two before I was able to return to the collection, feeling spooked and sad to realize this was probably on [...]

    • i did not initially like the foreword by David Foster Wallace, it reminded me a little of Dave Eggers at his most egotistical, but i might go back and try to read it all the way through seeing that David Foster Wallace so recently passed. I have skipped some of the essays I am not into - you know torture, iraq, mel gibson, sex and children in the same story. Some of the other essays are really good - the first one, Werner, starts quick and kept me interested. Fathead's Hard Times was good and on [...]

    • I'm loving this so farme years of these collections are stronger than others, depending on the editor, their approach and their agendas. David Foster Wallace's introduction is a pleasure to read in itself, and one of the best, if not the best, intros to this series I have read. Some highlights to this point: There's an essay about California and about writing about California, called "Disappointments" by Richard Rodriguez that I wanted to argue with and agree with all at once. I want to read it [...]

    • David Foster Wallace has chosen a wide range of subjects to include in the 2007 edition of Best American Essays. There are essays addressing the important issue of torture, a great informative piece on how a dog whisperer gets control of disobedient dogs, an interesting essay on stage fright suffered by stage actors, an insightful and honest essay that speaks the truth into the crowd that physical and mental change is inevitable despite one's efforts counter them. The most creative was the essay [...]

    • These are not the best American essays of 2006.Reading most of these essays gave me the impression that a man wearing blinders was looking at a corner of something and describing it as if his perspective reflected the whole reality of the thing. I don't want to read anything written or edited by David Foster Wallace ever again. First of all, out of all the essays written in 2006, Wallace picked a selection that was 75% male. Seriously, three to one of male and female authors?Second, this selecti [...]

    • Jonna Higgins-Freese

      (Feb 26, 2020 - 00:28 AM)

      Of course, the intro essay was fantastic and, in spite of his self-deprecating comments to the contrary, one of the best parts of the book. It makes me even madder at DFW for killing himself. Such a loss to all of us. He talks about how the best essays help us make sense of the glut of information that surrounds us, that somehow add to our understanding of the world rather than just our information about it. The first essay, Werner, about a man who escapes a fire, was absolutely amazing. So, in [...]

    • Notable essays:Wallace's introduction, which could've served as a notable essay for the 2008 editionIan Buruma's "The Freedom to Offend"Mark Danner's well crafted "Iraq: The War on Imagination"George Gessert's "An Orgy of Power"Malcolm Gladwell's "What the Dog Saw"Mark Greif's "Afternoon of the Sex Children," which was strong until its flagging endGarret Keizer's "Loaded"John Lahr's "Petrified"Louis Menand's "Name That Tone," which has a good endingElaine Scarry's philosophical "Rules of Engagem [...]

    • Jo Ann Beard. Werner Ian Buruma. The Freedom to OffendMark Danner. Iraq: The War of the ImaginationW. S. di Piero. Fathead’s Hard TimesGeorge Gessert. An Orgy of PowerMalcolm Gladwell. What the Dog SawMark Greif. Afternoon of the Sex ChildrenMarione Ingram. Operation GomorrahGarret Keizer. LoadedJohn Lahr. PetrifiedLouis Menand. Name That Tone Daniel Orozco. Shakers Cynthia Ozick. Out from XanaduMolly Peacock. Passion Flowers in WinterPhillip Robertson. In the Mosque of Imam AliMarilynne Robin [...]

    • I picked this up because I [heart] David Foster Wallace. However, I think that after attempting to read both the 2006 and 2007 editions of this series, I must conclude the the series editor is to blame for the overall bland feeling of this collection. I read about three quarters of the essays, and not much stuck with me at all. I did enjoy and recommend Peter Singer's contribution; it made me re-think the efficacy of charity. I also really liked the New Yorker piece about Cesar Milan, but since [...]

    • These "Best American" books are usually good reads, and this one is no exception. A broad range of essays this year, some literary, some political, some personal.As always, the selection is slanted toward the bias of this year's editor, David Foster Wallace. But in his (really good!) introduction, he admits this and then, without apology, the book goes on.There are several essays about the war in Iraq and Afganistan, mostly leaning on the "against" side of things, but there are also many essays [...]

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