Best American Essays


by Ariel Levy (Editor), Robert Atwan (Editor)

Hilton Als, Roger Angell, Justin Cronin, Meghan Daum, Anthony Doerr, Margo Jefferson, John Reed, David Sedaris, Zadie Smith, Rebecca Solnit, and many other esteemed authors, critics and personalities.

“Writing an essay is like catching a wave,” posits guest editor Ariel Levy. “To catch a wave, you need skill and nerve, not just moving water.” This year’s writers are certainly full of nerve, and have crafted a wide range of pieces awash in a diversity of moods, voices, and stances. Leaving an abusive marriage, parting with a younger self, losing your sanity to Fitbit, and even saying goodbye to a beloved pair of pants imbued with meaning are all unified by the daring of their creation. As Levy notes, “Writing around an idea you think is worthwhile—an idea you suspect is an insight—requires real audacity.”

John Reed has written a stunning, terrifying history of his family’s relationship with his grandmother in an essay, “My Grandma the Poisoner.” —Angela Lashbrook, Flavorwire