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Publishers Weekly, 2012-09-10 A creature from an alternative universe arriving in the United States in 2012 wanting to understand what is on the American mind should rush to the nearest bookstore and buy a copy of this distinguished anthology, now in its 27th year. The 24 selected by New York Times columnist Brooks arrive after publication in a wide range of journals and magazines. Highlights include Lauren Slater's "Killing My Body to Save My Mind," a brave and disquieting discussion about the extreme side-effects of various psychopharmaceuticals on her body. The volume's range of styles include the sharp and coolly intellectual (Alan Lightman's "The Accidental Universe") and the acutely personal (David J. Lawless's "My Father/My Husband." From Wesley Yang's fascinating exploration of racial identity, "Paper Tigers," to Francine Prose's critical reminiscence of her experience during the emergence of second wave feminism in the 1970s, "Other Women," there is not a dud in the bunch. As Mark Edmunson writes in one of the two essays about the plight of education, "Who Are You and What Are You Doing Here?": "In reading, I continue to look for one thing-to be influenced, to learn something new, to be thrown off my course and onto another, better way." This year's exhilarating collection is just that reading experience. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Publishers Weekly, 2006-08-14 Veteran essayists (Joseph Epstein, Oliver Sacks, Susan Orlean) share space with accomplished newcomers (Michele Morano, Laurie Abraham, Poe Ballantine) in this rich and thoughtful collection. Ethnic variety is one strain: Emily Bernard writes about being a black teacher in a white class; Ken Chen deciphers the cultural mix of Hong Kong. Peter Selgin's account of the maiming of his hand and Robert Polito's search for his unknown grandmother convey the poignancy of loss, and Scott Turow regrets never having met Saul Bellow. But the dominant theme is death. Toi Derricotte, Kim Dana Kupperman and David Rieff write about the deaths of their mothers (Rieff's mother was Susan Sontag). Sam Pickering's elegiac essay about putting his dog to sleep is also a lament on lost youth and coming age; Adam Gopnik wittily demonstrates how the death of a goldfish provides a watershed moment for his family. The most affecting piece is an excerpt from Marjorie Williams's elegant, unsparing The Woman at the Washington Zoo, in which she describes the progress of the cancer that was to kill her in 2005. Eugene Goodheart explains this preoccupation best: "I think of [the personal essay] as the genre of the posthumous," he says. (Oct. 11) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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