Jaime's Reviews > The Best American Essays 2018

The Best American Essays 2018 by Hilton Als
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really liked it

I am generally a big fan of the Best American series. The past few years of the Essay books have been iffy, and this....was good, but I would have liked to have seen more women, and more...I can’t put my finger on it, but when I think of the years that I really loved, the topics were more personal, more accessible. More essays taken from indie lit journals or unexpected places, rather than the New Yorker or NYRB or Lapham’s or NYT magazine or the usual lit mags. I know each editor brings their own preferences and flavor to the collections, so maybe that’s it. This collection, while there were several essays that I really loved, often felt suffocating and stilted to me in some ways. It’s worth a read, and many people might love this year’s collection. For me, it missed the mark a little bit.
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Reading Progress

July 28, 2018 – Started Reading
July 28, 2018 – Shelved
July 29, 2018 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-3 of 3 (3 new)

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message 1: by Kimberly (new)

Kimberly J. I'm going to agree with you. And not just because my essay -- personal, accessible, published in a lit magazine and by a woman, yes -- was listed only as "notable." If I had time I'd do the math on the gender divide. But I'm not bitter!


message 2: by Anittah (new) - added it

Anittah ^^^ as a notable alum myself, congrats on the recognition. Just in scanning the table of contents and the sources I sensed this year's gestalt was going to be more like the BAEs of the early nineties. Alas...


message 3: by Amy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Amy Kimberly, congratulations on the Notable Essay this year! We are anthology buddies! (I got one, too; I was so excited that I told the Barnes & Noble bookseller and pointed at my name as if I couldn’t have pointed at literally any name and claimed it was mine.) And congratulations, Annitah on your Notable. A friend says he often thinks the notables are more interesting and that they carry a mystique the ones actually printed in the book don’t, and I agree. I want to look up a bunch of the essays that aren’t in the actual anthology.

I’ve so far only read Leslie Jamison’s and Heidi Julavits’ essays and someone else’s that I’m not going to name because, even though it was strictly personal, and I tend toward the personal and idiosyncratic, too, I didn’t think it was good, and I don’t want to criticize another writer during their big moment. I assumed this year would err a little less toward personal essays since we all have to only write about Trump now (that’s hyperbolic but not exactly untrue), so I’m disappointed to hear that there are so few personal essays or essays from smaller journals, but I’m also not surprised.


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