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Edited by award-winning poet and essayist Mary Oliver, the latest edition of this "rich and thoughtful collection" (Publishers Weekly) offers the finest essays "judiciously selected from countless publications" (Chicago Tribune). Edited by award-winning poet and essayist Mary Oliver, the latest edition of this "rich and thoughtful collection" (Publishers Weekly) offers the finest essays "judiciously selected from countless publications" (Chicago Tribune).


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Edited by award-winning poet and essayist Mary Oliver, the latest edition of this "rich and thoughtful collection" (Publishers Weekly) offers the finest essays "judiciously selected from countless publications" (Chicago Tribune). Edited by award-winning poet and essayist Mary Oliver, the latest edition of this "rich and thoughtful collection" (Publishers Weekly) offers the finest essays "judiciously selected from countless publications" (Chicago Tribune).

30 review for The Best American Essays 2009

  1. 5 out of 5

    David

    Addendum to original review, explaining why I have downgraded this to two stars - (italicized material below): My second criticism is probably more a reflection of my personal taste, and may not be shared by other readers. But I felt that Mary Oliver's background as a poet shone through, with the result that many of the pieces had a kind of "writerly" quality that might appeal to other writers, but was a bit precious for a general reader like me. This was particularly true of pieces like Chris A Addendum to original review, explaining why I have downgraded this to two stars - (italicized material below): My second criticism is probably more a reflection of my personal taste, and may not be shared by other readers. But I felt that Mary Oliver's background as a poet shone through, with the result that many of the pieces had a kind of "writerly" quality that might appeal to other writers, but was a bit precious for a general reader like me. This was particularly true of pieces like Chris Arthur's "(En)trance", Patricia Hampl's "The Dark Art of Description", Brian Doyle's "The Greatest nature Essay Ever", Cynthia Ozick's "Ghost writers", John Updike's "The Writer in Winter", any of which might be of interest to someone attending a writer's workshop, but none of which seemed to me to hold much interest for a general reader. And, of course, it didn't help my evaluation that one of the longest pieces in the collection is by Richard Rodriguez, a writer whose self-indulgent posturing and whining gets on my last nerve. In a slim collection that doesn't even exceed 200 pages, the 21 pages devoted to his contribution "the God of the Desert" could surely have been put to better use. Not to end on too sour a note, honorable mention is surely due to; Sue Allison's "Taking a Reading" Jill Mc Corkle's "Cuss Time" David James Duncan's soaring "Cherish this Ecstasy" and Kathryn Miles's wonderful "Dog is our Copilot" But these amount to no more than 25 pages of 190, or - if you prefer - 4 essays out of 22. a disappointing batting average. original review starts below: Definitely an improvement over last year's woeful selection (courtesy of pretentious assmarmot Adam Gopnik), this year's pretty slim collection still doesn't manage to rise above 3 stars. truth be told, it's a solid 2.5 star effort, but I'm willing to round up solely on the basis of Jill McCorkle's delightful "Cuss Time". What to say? Well, this year's editor is a poet, so that shines through in many of the essays. A lot of writerly writing, if that floats your boat (personally I found many of the pieces more than a little precious). My other criticism, which seems to be a recurring one for this particular collection, is that you, the reader, may not find the navel-gazing of many of the contributors nearly as interesting as they evidently find it. But if *the travails of Michael Lewis living in a mansion beyond his means, *a ten-page account of Garret Lewis's ongoing fight with deer in his backyard, *10 pages about the personal health and fainting history of someone called James Marcus, (each of the above delivered in prose that is at best adequate, and with no apparent irony) is the kind of thing that fascinates you, you may well enjoy this particular selection. Personally, I am beginning to think that this particular volume in the "Best American" series is about ready to be put on the chopping block. Back down to two stars - the dross really outweighs the few decent contributions yet again.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Dave

    Must be the slimmest collection ever. Disappointing selection of essays, with many being less than 10 pages long.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Carrie

    There were about a handful of essays that were either difficult to get through or just didn't interest. Those I particularly enjoyed were "Faustian Economics" by Wendell Berry, Brian Doyle's "The Greatest Nature Essay Ever," "Madre de Dios" by Barry Lopez, Jill McCorkle's "Cuss Time," "Dog Is Our Copilot" by Kathryn Miles, "Return to Hayneville" by Gregory Orr, "Shipwrecked" by Janna Malamud Smith, and "First" by Ryan Van Meter. There were a few others I enjoyed as well, but those were my favori There were about a handful of essays that were either difficult to get through or just didn't interest. Those I particularly enjoyed were "Faustian Economics" by Wendell Berry, Brian Doyle's "The Greatest Nature Essay Ever," "Madre de Dios" by Barry Lopez, Jill McCorkle's "Cuss Time," "Dog Is Our Copilot" by Kathryn Miles, "Return to Hayneville" by Gregory Orr, "Shipwrecked" by Janna Malamud Smith, and "First" by Ryan Van Meter. There were a few others I enjoyed as well, but those were my favorites.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Eva Strange

    A collection of this kind is naturally always a mixed bag. If you share Mary Oliver's interests (as I do), you'll likely find much in here to like and enjoy and nod along with, and won't gel as much with the pieces she likely included for neutrality's sake. I found several authors that were previously unknown to me and whose works I've put on my to-read shelf, and what more can you ask for? A collection of this kind is naturally always a mixed bag. If you share Mary Oliver's interests (as I do), you'll likely find much in here to like and enjoy and nod along with, and won't gel as much with the pieces she likely included for neutrality's sake. I found several authors that were previously unknown to me and whose works I've put on my to-read shelf, and what more can you ask for?

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    I'm not sure why Mary Oliver, a poet, was chosen to edit an anthology of essays. I guess had this anthology been more enthralling it would have seemed an enlightened choice, but as it is, this is the worst of the BA Essay Anthologies I've read so far. First of all, an overwhelming amount of the essays are about writing (Patricia Hampl's is the best), which is great for us writers, but I'm sure less than captivating for everyone else. Such a selection sure doesn't invite the casual reader into th I'm not sure why Mary Oliver, a poet, was chosen to edit an anthology of essays. I guess had this anthology been more enthralling it would have seemed an enlightened choice, but as it is, this is the worst of the BA Essay Anthologies I've read so far. First of all, an overwhelming amount of the essays are about writing (Patricia Hampl's is the best), which is great for us writers, but I'm sure less than captivating for everyone else. Such a selection sure doesn't invite the casual reader into the genre. Secondly, almost all of the essays are shorter than normal, and on over-done topics, like dogs. I think I'm done reading essays about dogs, even if the dogs are Charles Darwin's. It's like dogs are supposed to be some sort of doppelganger (doggelganger?) of the soul, when in fact, they are dogs, and are thus predictable, and thus add little narrative suspense. I mean, I think dogs are cute in real life, but on the page, there are only so many things a dog is going to do. And third, even the best writers here seem to be at their worst: I am an ardent fan of Richard Rodriguez, but he should stay out of the Middle East - he doesn't know enough about it to earn his own profound voice. I also love Jerald Walker, but he's writing about writing here, and like so many other writers on writing he comes off as more self-involved than I suspect he actually is. There are a few essays that outshine everything else: Amy Leach's "You Be The Moon" is one of those essays that will sail 1,000 applications to writing school - truly inspiring. And Michael Lewis's "The Mansion: A Subprime Parable" is a delightful, informative, page-turner - solid nonfiction. Everything else is kinda meh.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Bill

    I've been reading this series every year since it started appearing, back during the Reagan administration. For the most part I've found it a pleasing exercise. Sometimes it sums up the year-- the post 9/11 set made a point of it, for example. Sometimes it is full of things that I have already read, and am pleased to rediscover, and have between covers. And sometimes, rarely, it is full of essays that reflect the interests of the guest editor, and is otherwise oblique to me. The year Susan Sonta I've been reading this series every year since it started appearing, back during the Reagan administration. For the most part I've found it a pleasing exercise. Sometimes it sums up the year-- the post 9/11 set made a point of it, for example. Sometimes it is full of things that I have already read, and am pleased to rediscover, and have between covers. And sometimes, rarely, it is full of essays that reflect the interests of the guest editor, and is otherwise oblique to me. The year Susan Sontag edited the set was like that-- when I was done I knew what sort of thing Ms. Sontag liked to read, and I knew that we'd have an awkward evening if we were ever paired at a dinner party. She died before that happened, but now I have to worry about meeting Mary Oliver at a party. I'm not familiar with Ms. Oliver's work. She is, I gather, chiefly a poet. The essays in the book she has edited seem to be largely concerned with the challenges associated with composition, rather than with the ostensible topics-- third world economics, or whatever. There's a lot of nature writing. It is a thin volume, but it seems that the number of pieces is about the same as in years past. Many of the essays are short-- a couple of pages-- which no doubt appeals to Ms. Oliver's poetic soul.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Whitney Archibald

    Essays are not boring! I'm giving this book four stars overall, but some of the essays definitely merit 5 stars. My top five: 1. "And Such Small Deer" by Garret Keizer. An epic war between a man and the deer who nibbled away his backyard arbor vitae, organized based on famous characters from literature and art. 2. "You Be the Moon" by Amy Leach. I didn't think I was interested in reading about the orbit of the moon, until I read this: "To get an idea of the relationship between the Earth and the Essays are not boring! I'm giving this book four stars overall, but some of the essays definitely merit 5 stars. My top five: 1. "And Such Small Deer" by Garret Keizer. An epic war between a man and the deer who nibbled away his backyard arbor vitae, organized based on famous characters from literature and art. 2. "You Be the Moon" by Amy Leach. I didn't think I was interested in reading about the orbit of the moon, until I read this: "To get an idea of the relationship between the Earth and the Moon and the Sun, find two friends and have the self-conscious one with lots of atmosphere be the Earth and the coercive one be the Sun. And you be the Moon, if you are periodically luminous and sometimes unobservable and your inner life has petered out." The whole essay was beautiful and funny and surprisingly comprehensible. 3. "The Mansion: A Subprime Parable" by Michael Lewis. A family lives in an unbelievably posh mansion for a year. My attempts to say more about this essay sounds trite and preachy, but the essay itself is not. 4. "Shipwrecked" by Janna Malamud Smith. Incredible essay comparing the loss of Smith's mother to Robinson Crusoe. 5. "Dog is Our Copilot" by Kathryn Miles. The evolution (biological and social) of our most prolific pet.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Billie Pritchett

    I was interested in about eight of these essays. "Portrait of a Masked Man" is about the author's personal encounters with the Zapatistas in Mexico. "Faustian Economics" is an essay by Wendell Berry that encourages folk to err toward a conservationist mentality. "The Mansion: A Subprime Parable" is a firsthand scenario of living beyond one's means. "Madre de Dios" is an odd essay about one man's religious predilections in times of adversity. "Cuss Time" is about the author Jill McCorkle's child- I was interested in about eight of these essays. "Portrait of a Masked Man" is about the author's personal encounters with the Zapatistas in Mexico. "Faustian Economics" is an essay by Wendell Berry that encourages folk to err toward a conservationist mentality. "The Mansion: A Subprime Parable" is a firsthand scenario of living beyond one's means. "Madre de Dios" is an odd essay about one man's religious predilections in times of adversity. "Cuss Time" is about the author Jill McCorkle's child-rearing technique of letting her children get an hour of cussing in a day (incidentally, she also wrote a story for the 2009 edition of Best American Short Stories). "Dog Is Our Copilot" is an essay that uses Charles Darwin's relationship with his dog as a springboard to talk about people's attachment to their dogs, and it's a very good essay indeed. "Return to Haynesville" is about a man's experiences with the civil rights movement. And "The God of the Desert" is about a man's experience in Jerusalem and his reflections on the monotheistic religions. I bet I'm leaving some good essay out, but these are the ones that I remember most off the top of my head.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Karyn

    I've always loved Mary Oliver's poetry, so I was excited to read this edition of BAE. I was not disappointed. Just like any BAE, the collection is a mixed bag--some essays are more my taste than others. Wendell Berry's essay "Faustian Economics," for example, has truly compelling ideas--but a really annoying voice. Patricia Hampl babbles on a little too long, and at the end of Cynthia Ozick's essay, I wrote "obnoxious." But I'm really just being picky. Most of these essays sing. David James Dunc I've always loved Mary Oliver's poetry, so I was excited to read this edition of BAE. I was not disappointed. Just like any BAE, the collection is a mixed bag--some essays are more my taste than others. Wendell Berry's essay "Faustian Economics," for example, has truly compelling ideas--but a really annoying voice. Patricia Hampl babbles on a little too long, and at the end of Cynthia Ozick's essay, I wrote "obnoxious." But I'm really just being picky. Most of these essays sing. David James Duncan's "Cherish This Essay" ends as a poem; Verlyn Klinkenborg's "Our Vanishing Night" is both fascinating and concise; Garret Keizer and Michael Lewis are both funny and thought-provoking. Brian Doyle's "The Greatest Nature Essay Ever" is a great piece about craft--maybe too great, as it lays out too neat, too predictable a pattern. I'd like to think of it as a call-to-arms for reinvention. Most of the essays in the collection are about cycles of nature, the transcendence of love, and our place as humans on this planet--pretty much the subjects of most of Oliver's poems. If you like her work, this collection will introduce you to essayists who share her sympathies.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Kirsti

    I like the idea of a poet editing a collection of essays because poets have to have such command over language. To me the standout essay in this collection is "The Mansion: A Subprime Parallel," in which Michael Lewis loses his damn mind and spends $13,000 per month to rent the grandest house in New Orleans for his family of five. Other essays in here that are definitely worth reading: * "Faint Music" by James Marcus, about being a fainter in a family full of fainters * "Cuss Time" by Jill McCorkle, I like the idea of a poet editing a collection of essays because poets have to have such command over language. To me the standout essay in this collection is "The Mansion: A Subprime Parallel," in which Michael Lewis loses his damn mind and spends $13,000 per month to rent the grandest house in New Orleans for his family of five. Other essays in here that are definitely worth reading: * "Faint Music" by James Marcus, about being a fainter in a family full of fainters * "Cuss Time" by Jill McCorkle, about the power and value of "dirty words" * "Dog Is Our Copilot" by Kathryn Miles, about Charles Darwin and Jack Russell terriers * "Return to Hayneville" by Gregory Orr, about being a civil rights protester who gets kidnapped by vigilantes * "You Be the Moon" by Amy Leach, which is the most lyrical description of astronomy that I've ever read

  11. 5 out of 5

    N

    This BAE contains mostly one-timers. The guest editor selected a somewhat limited range of subject matter and voice, much of which was dull or scattered, despite many of the included authors being well known. I'd return to 5 of the essays. According to my checkmark rating system (1 for good essays, 2 for great, 3 for impressively life-altering), this volume contains 5 pieces I'd return for: 1 Checkmark Brian Doyle's "The Greatest Essay Ever" Patricia Hampl's "The Dark Art of Description" Verlyn Klin This BAE contains mostly one-timers. The guest editor selected a somewhat limited range of subject matter and voice, much of which was dull or scattered, despite many of the included authors being well known. I'd return to 5 of the essays. According to my checkmark rating system (1 for good essays, 2 for great, 3 for impressively life-altering), this volume contains 5 pieces I'd return for: 1 Checkmark Brian Doyle's "The Greatest Essay Ever" Patricia Hampl's "The Dark Art of Description" Verlyn Klinkenborg's "Our Vanishing Night" Richard Rodriguez's "The God of the Desert" 2 Checkmarks Wendell Berry's "Faustian Economics" (what an intriguing case for the arts!) Of the 22 selections, 7 were by women--disappointingly scant representation. Overall, an OK anthology, but there are many better BAEs (2000, 2002, and 2005, for starters).

  12. 5 out of 5

    Frank

    I originally picked this up because of its inclusion of an essay by a college classmate—Kathryn Miles, whose essay "Dog is Our Co-Pilot" is one of the best and longest essays in an unusually short installment of this yearly series. Perhaps the brevity is a consequence of having a poet, Mary Oliver, as the editor. Though some of the essays here are a little too short, there's lots of good stuff. I particularly liked (and have already used in class) Gregory Orr's "Return to Hayneville," a narrativ I originally picked this up because of its inclusion of an essay by a college classmate—Kathryn Miles, whose essay "Dog is Our Co-Pilot" is one of the best and longest essays in an unusually short installment of this yearly series. Perhaps the brevity is a consequence of having a poet, Mary Oliver, as the editor. Though some of the essays here are a little too short, there's lots of good stuff. I particularly liked (and have already used in class) Gregory Orr's "Return to Hayneville," a narrative about harrowing experience the author had as a young civil rights volunteer in the deep South. Among others, Garrett Keizer's "And Such Small Deer..." was also very good.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Liz

    My favorites: Cuss Time by Jill McCorkle, found here: http://www.theamericanscholar.org/cus... and The Greatest Nature Essay Ever by Brian Doyle, found here: http://www.orionmagazine.org/index.ph... I also loved God of the Desert by Richard Rodriguez, it's much longer than most included and is going to be part of a book he is writing about "Jerusalem and the ecology of monotheism"—basically, how Christianity, Judaism, and Islam are rooted in essentially the same place. It's fascinating, but you c My favorites: Cuss Time by Jill McCorkle, found here: http://www.theamericanscholar.org/cus... and The Greatest Nature Essay Ever by Brian Doyle, found here: http://www.orionmagazine.org/index.ph... I also loved God of the Desert by Richard Rodriguez, it's much longer than most included and is going to be part of a book he is writing about "Jerusalem and the ecology of monotheism"—basically, how Christianity, Judaism, and Islam are rooted in essentially the same place. It's fascinating, but you can't read it online (unless you are a paid subscriber of Harper's.) Rodriguez is a good writer and I'd recommend his book without having read it, just based on this essay.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Wesley

    I thought this was going to be an interesting read and honestly it has a very appealing title. i purchased this book on my way to pittsburgh a few weeks ago and assumed it was going to be deep. I must say it was very different from books i've read before. My favorite essay was written by a woman named Amy Leach, called you be the moon. Leach uses the science behind the moon's orbit to discuss the paths of human lives. The book has a very unique collection of essays and i really enjoyed the read. I thought this was going to be an interesting read and honestly it has a very appealing title. i purchased this book on my way to pittsburgh a few weeks ago and assumed it was going to be deep. I must say it was very different from books i've read before. My favorite essay was written by a woman named Amy Leach, called you be the moon. Leach uses the science behind the moon's orbit to discuss the paths of human lives. The book has a very unique collection of essays and i really enjoyed the read.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Anne

    There are some essays in this collection that I enjoyed enormously - Mary Oliver's excellent taste is clearly evident here - including Barry Lopez's "Madre de Dios" and Michael Lewis' "The Mansion: A Subprime Parable." My favorite, though, was a two-pager, "The Greatest Nature Essay Ever," by Brian Doyle. It's actually a stunning essay on the art and craft of writing itself and builds to a summary of why many of us read books: at the end of a well written book, "you sit there, near tears, smilin There are some essays in this collection that I enjoyed enormously - Mary Oliver's excellent taste is clearly evident here - including Barry Lopez's "Madre de Dios" and Michael Lewis' "The Mansion: A Subprime Parable." My favorite, though, was a two-pager, "The Greatest Nature Essay Ever," by Brian Doyle. It's actually a stunning essay on the art and craft of writing itself and builds to a summary of why many of us read books: at the end of a well written book, "you sit there, near tears, smiling, and then you stand up. Changed."

  16. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

    If all the other volumes in this series are as good as the two I just read (Science and Nature 2009 and Essays 2009), then I am missing some fantastic writing each year. Gah! How will I read it all??? But I digress. The best essay in this collection is "The God of the Desert" by Richard Rodriguez; a very evocative meditation on touring the religious sites (Christian, Jewish, and Muslim) of the Holy Land. If all the other volumes in this series are as good as the two I just read (Science and Nature 2009 and Essays 2009), then I am missing some fantastic writing each year. Gah! How will I read it all??? But I digress. The best essay in this collection is "The God of the Desert" by Richard Rodriguez; a very evocative meditation on touring the religious sites (Christian, Jewish, and Muslim) of the Holy Land.

  17. 5 out of 5

    M.E.

    This year's collection isn't quite as good as some of the other books in the Best American series. There are a few fine pieces of writing here, especially Michael Lewis's "The Mansion: A Subprime Parable," but none of them really shined as something you just have to tell your friends to read. Many of the essays were more cute than great and so many were about writing that it started to feel a little self-indulgent on the part of the editor. This year's collection isn't quite as good as some of the other books in the Best American series. There are a few fine pieces of writing here, especially Michael Lewis's "The Mansion: A Subprime Parable," but none of them really shined as something you just have to tell your friends to read. Many of the essays were more cute than great and so many were about writing that it started to feel a little self-indulgent on the part of the editor.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Melanie Faith

    I love the Best American Essays series in general, but I was particularly glad to see one of my favorite writers (nature poet and essayist) Mary Oliver as the guest editor for the 2009 volume. I tend to read the Best series in drips and dabbles, delving into an essay mid-volume as the title or author catches my interest and then back-tracking (or forward-tracking, as the case may be) through the rest/others. :) Beautiful and skilled prose. :)

  19. 5 out of 5

    Anie

    I was up and down with respect to this volume. There were some very nice essays; the Lewis essay was wonderful, for example. But, as other reviewers have mentioned, there are a few highly poetical essays in here, and not all of them are poetical in the good way. The Arthur essay in particular I found immensely conceited and unappealing, and I found myself disliking the author immensely after reading it. Unfortunate.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jess

    The best essays transcend Oliver's proclivities --- religion, the ailing body, writing about writing --- to stand alone as excellent examples of what the literary essay can do. I'm thinking in particular about Berger on the Zapatistas and Rodriguez on the ecology of the Israeli desert. But I guess that probably belies my own proclivities . . . The best essays transcend Oliver's proclivities --- religion, the ailing body, writing about writing --- to stand alone as excellent examples of what the literary essay can do. I'm thinking in particular about Berger on the Zapatistas and Rodriguez on the ecology of the Israeli desert. But I guess that probably belies my own proclivities . . .

  21. 5 out of 5

    Vanessa

    The 2009 collection was a let-down. In the past editions, the selections were examples of interesting, solid, and appealing writing rather than it being so lyrical. Michael Lewis's "The Mansion" was one of the few essays reminiscent of the past collections. Hopefully, the 2010 edition will improve with a new editor. The 2009 collection was a let-down. In the past editions, the selections were examples of interesting, solid, and appealing writing rather than it being so lyrical. Michael Lewis's "The Mansion" was one of the few essays reminiscent of the past collections. Hopefully, the 2010 edition will improve with a new editor.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Maraya

    A collection of writers' writing. Gets off to a bumpy start with a few essays that I thought were gimicky and trite, and it did annoy me that Wendell Berry's Faustian Economics, important though it may be, is published here AND in the Best Science series. But I liked most of the essays, loved a few of them, and found some new favorite authors. A collection of writers' writing. Gets off to a bumpy start with a few essays that I thought were gimicky and trite, and it did annoy me that Wendell Berry's Faustian Economics, important though it may be, is published here AND in the Best Science series. But I liked most of the essays, loved a few of them, and found some new favorite authors.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Joan

    Always treasure to find in this series. Standouts include a short essay by Sue Allison, insights on writing by Patricia Hampl (which was fun as I had just finished Florist's Daughter.) Also Garret Keizer on his attempts to save his arborvitae hedge from deer, and Gregory Orr on harrowing events during early civil rights days. Always treasure to find in this series. Standouts include a short essay by Sue Allison, insights on writing by Patricia Hampl (which was fun as I had just finished Florist's Daughter.) Also Garret Keizer on his attempts to save his arborvitae hedge from deer, and Gregory Orr on harrowing events during early civil rights days.

  24. 4 out of 5

    César

    Did I just read an essay about a guy who faints when his doctor pokes his doghole? And what's with the majority of "essays" about writing and the writing life? Nonfiction is a much better field than what this 2009 edition offers. Even then, there are a few fantastic pieces by Ryan Van Meter, Barry Lopez, Amy Leach, and Richard Rodriguez. Did I just read an essay about a guy who faints when his doctor pokes his doghole? And what's with the majority of "essays" about writing and the writing life? Nonfiction is a much better field than what this 2009 edition offers. Even then, there are a few fantastic pieces by Ryan Van Meter, Barry Lopez, Amy Leach, and Richard Rodriguez.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Robert

    John Berger's "Portrait of a Masked Man," Amy Leach's "You be the Moon," Jill McCorkle's "Cuss Time," Kathryn Miles's "Dog Is Our Copilot," and Gregory Orr's "Return to Hayneville," were in my opinion the best of the bunch. For a best of edition, there were a fair amount of nature/science essays, and I wasn't super floored by any of them. But nonetheless, still a worthwhile read. John Berger's "Portrait of a Masked Man," Amy Leach's "You be the Moon," Jill McCorkle's "Cuss Time," Kathryn Miles's "Dog Is Our Copilot," and Gregory Orr's "Return to Hayneville," were in my opinion the best of the bunch. For a best of edition, there were a fair amount of nature/science essays, and I wasn't super floored by any of them. But nonetheless, still a worthwhile read.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jim Stark

    Like any collection, these are uneven, but there is enough good writing to make it worth skimming the lighter pieces. Mary Oliver's touch is evident since several are environmental writings (some of the weaker ones). Like any collection, these are uneven, but there is enough good writing to make it worth skimming the lighter pieces. Mary Oliver's touch is evident since several are environmental writings (some of the weaker ones).

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jon

    Quite consistently terrific. Wendell Berry's "Faustian Economics" and John Updike's "The Writer in Winter" were among the more memorable. Plus, three writers from BYU made the Notable Essays section. Quite consistently terrific. Wendell Berry's "Faustian Economics" and John Updike's "The Writer in Winter" were among the more memorable. Plus, three writers from BYU made the Notable Essays section.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jonna Higgins-Freese

    I ended up not finishing this -- although I love Mary Oliver, her selections just weren't compelling. Not to mention that she must have picked fewer or shorter essays than usual -- the book was less than half the size it usually is. I gave it to Eric to sell used on Amazon. I ended up not finishing this -- although I love Mary Oliver, her selections just weren't compelling. Not to mention that she must have picked fewer or shorter essays than usual -- the book was less than half the size it usually is. I gave it to Eric to sell used on Amazon.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Alex MacDougall

    A Bit dissapointed in the collection this year. Short, with fewer essays than normal and with few standout, really make me think essays. Probably the weakest entry in the 10 or so years i've been reading the collection. A Bit dissapointed in the collection this year. Short, with fewer essays than normal and with few standout, really make me think essays. Probably the weakest entry in the 10 or so years i've been reading the collection.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    I've read these collections for the past 4 or 5 years. This was by far my favorite, no doubt because Mary Olivier edited it. Through the reading, I found myself regularly sharing links of particular essays with friends. Excellent read. I've read these collections for the past 4 or 5 years. This was by far my favorite, no doubt because Mary Olivier edited it. Through the reading, I found myself regularly sharing links of particular essays with friends. Excellent read.

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