readers who’d like to see more of the best essays since 1950 should take a look at the best american essays of the century (2000). more great articles about cities9/11fixed opinions, or the hinge of history by joan didionthe falling man by tom junod5 more great articles about 9/11see also. and the best essays show that the name of the genre is also a verb, so they demonstrate a mind in process--reflecting, trying-out, essaying. the first in the eponymous collection, “the braindead megaphone” takes on the current political and media climate in america that will make you shake your head in a i’ve-always-thought-that-but-never-really-put-it-that-way-myself way.” besides plasma, in this emotion-packed essay you will find entangled in all the tension a lovable, dying collie, invasive squirrels, an estranged husband, the seriously disturbed gunman, and his victims, one of them among the author’s dearest friends. the author is sick of the overwrought attempts at creating and sustaining masterpieces, instead calling for art to devour its own boundaries. it’s collected in his great and final collection of essays, man without a country, you can read an adaptation online at lapham’s quarterly.
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it is a masterful “journey to the end of taste,” and by the end we’re all thumping our chests and rooting for céline marie claudette dion. foster wallace, "consider the lobster" (originally appeared in gourmet, 2004)they may at first look like magazine articles—those factually-driven, expansive pieces on the illinois state fair, a luxury cruise ship, the adult video awards, or john mccain’s 2000 presidential campaign—but once you uncover the disguise and get inside them you are in the midst of essayistic genius.” the festival becomes much more than an occasion to observe “the world’s largest lobster cooker” in action as wallace poses an uncomfortable question to readers of the upscale food magazine: “is it all right to boil a sentient creature alive just for our gustatory pleasure? over a month before this, while all our energies were concentrated in waiting for these events, there had been, in detroit, one of the bloodiest race riots of the century. “total eclipse” has it all—the climactic intensity of short fiction, the interwoven imagery of poetry, and the meditative dynamics of the personal essay: “this was the universe about which we have read so much and never before felt: the universe as a clockwork of loose spheres flung at stupefying, unauthorized speeds. jo ann beard, "the fourth state of matter" (originally appeared in the new yorker, 1996)a question for nonfiction writing students: when writing a true story based on actual events, how does the narrator create dramatic tension when most readers can be expected to know what happens in the end? fortunately, when i worked with joyce carol oates on the best american essays of the century (that’s the last century, by the way), we weren’t restricted to ten selections.