Read The Best American Essays 2015 by Ariel Levy Free Online
Book Title: The Best American Essays 2015|
The size of the: 7.30 MB
Edition: Mariner Books
Date of issue: October 6th 2015
The author of the book: Ariel Levy
Format files: PDF
ISBN 13: 9780544579217
Read full description of the books The Best American Essays 2015:My first BAE! A trusted reader recommended the anthology and upon finishing I thought, "What took me so long to read one of these?" It's like having access to all those wonderful literary journals and magazines I can't afford, just there, on my nightstand, for my usual 3 a.m. open eyes.
So many of the names in this collection are familiar: Justin Cronin, Anthony Doerr, Malcolm Gladwell, Margo Jefferson, Kate Lebo, David Sedaris, Zadie Smith, Rebecca Solnit, Cheryl Strayed that I wondered, "Did these marquee names really write the best American essays of 2015?, or do they remain marquee names because their writing is just that good?" In a couple instances, I felt the writer's inclusion had more to do with attracting a certain demographic into reaching for an anthology of essays than it did with the actual quality of the work.
But let's not worry about the few pieces I found forgettable. Because I've forgotten them already. Let's talk about the ones that made me tremble, laugh, cry, shake in outrage or wonder.
Aging seemed to be the only theme uniting some of these essays, and editor Ariel Levy cites the prevalence of essays on growing old published in the American essay canon this past year. Roger Angell wrote This Old Man at the remarkable milestone of ninety-three (I say "milestone" because I reckon each year over ninety deserves to be lauded). Sven Birkerts convalesces in Strange Days. Mark Jacobson looks at 65 and realizes he's reached a true milestone when the world deems him "old".
But the one that got to me, the one I could read over and over, the one I'd read at a slumber party, if I wasn't too old for slumber parties, is John Reed's ohmygodohmygodohmygod My Grandma the Poisoner/ Yeah, it's about an old woman, but she wasn't always old. Question is, why didn't anyone notice she was always evil? Brrr... chilling. Unputdownable.
Despite the emphasis on aging and bodies broken down by time, it is the work of two younger writers that stopped me in my tracks. Kendra Atleework's Charade cries out to be a full-length work. Her writing is stunning. Raw. This is a true story, but I ache to read the rest, either as a novel, or in memoir form. Watch this writer. You will see her again. Kelly Sundberg's essay about her perfect marriage-turned-horror-show of abuse, It Will Look Like a Sunset is a perfect example of how the most intelligent, perceptive, strong people can lose their way, can be detoured by fear, manipulation, shame, and guilt. It is an exceptional piece of writing from yet another rising voice in creative non-fiction.
Anthony Doerr's meditation on one of the founding families of Boise, Idaho, Thing with Feathers That Perches in the Soul, is poignant and beautiful, as is most everything he writes. And then there is David Sedaris being utterly true to character, his usual unusual laugh-out-loud self, in Stepping Out.
Scenes for a Life in Negroland is one of my favorite pieces of this collection. Jefferson opens a window into her childhood, growing up in a upper-class Chicago neighborhood, the child of highly-educated, well-off parents.
We thought of ourselves as the Third Race, poised between the masses of Negroes and all class of Caucasians. Like the Third Eye, the Third Race possessed a wisdom, intuition, and enlightened knowledge the other two races lacked. It's at first a fascinating, then a shattering, look at racial culture and racism in years leading up the Civil Rights movement of the early 60s.
Philip Kennicott and Kate Lebo explore a different type of identity, in Smuggler and The Loudproof Room, respectively. Kennicott recalls encountering same-sex desire in literature and finding at last a common narrative to help shape and define his own feelings; Lebo's compromised hearing allows her to experience the world in ways she's not certain she's ready to give up to corrective surgery.
I end with the two pieces that took my breath away: Ashraf H. A. Rushdy's Reflections on Indexing My Lynching Book and Rebecca Solnit's Arrival Gates. Rushdy's piece speaks of past anguish that has caught up to our present, except that today we do not speak of lynchings, we hear instead the oft-repeated phrase, "police shooting of an unarmed black man", we see the statistics behind mass incarceration, we have to point out that Black Lives Matter, because Jim Crow still walks amongst us. Rushdy writes of his index, a listing of names—the names of the murdered, the murderers, those who fought to change the system and the culture; place names, dates—an alphabetical history of lynching in the United States. ... the index, the part with the least imaginative input ... contain a great deal of emotional energy that is probably no readily apparent to the reader. It is a profound piece of writing.
I saved Solnit's essay for last, even though it is not the last in the BAE 2015, because: Rebecca Solnit. She does not disappoint. Solnit writes of traveling to Japan to see first-hand how the 2011 disaster trifecta has affected the country one year later and, in Solnit-style, this objective leads her into a journey of a different sort. She wanders through a park outside Kyoto and contemplates the representation of time, what we mean when we say "arrival" and how to be present with our own past and future. It's an essay I will return to, one that make this particular volume a keeper in my personal library.
Read information about the authorAriel Levy (born October 17, 1974) is a staff writer at The New Yorker magazine and author of the book Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post, The New Yorker, Vogue, Slate, Men's Journal and Blender. Levy was named one of the "Forty Under 40" most influential out individuals in the June/July 2009 issue of The Advocate.
Levy was raised in Larchmont, New York, and attended Wesleyan University in the 1990s. She says that her experiences at Wesleyan, which had "co-ed showers, on principle", strongly influenced her views regarding modern sexuality. After graduating from Wesleyan, she was briefly employed by Planned Parenthood, but claims that she was fired because she is "an extremely poor typist". She was hired by New York magazine shortly thereafter.
At The New Yorker magazine, where Levy has been a staff writer since 2008, she has written profiles of Cindy McCain and Marc Jacobs. At New York magazine, where Levy was a contributing editor for 12 years, she wrote about John Waters, Donatella Versace, the writer George Trow, the feminist Andrea Dworkin, the artists Ryan McGinley and Dash Snow, Al Franken, Clay Aiken, Maureen Dowd, and Jude Law. Levy has explored issues regarding American drug use, gender roles, lesbian culture, and the popularity of U.S. pop culture staples such as Sex and the City and Gwen Stefani. Some of these articles allude to Levy's personal thoughts on the status of modern feminism.
Levy criticized the pornographic video series Girls Gone Wild after she followed its camera crew for three days, interviewed both the makers of the series and the women who appeared on the videos, and commented on the series' concept and the debauchery she was witnessing. Many of the young women Levy spoke with believed that bawdy and liberated were synonymous.
Levy's experiences amid Girls Gone Wild appear again in Female Chauvinist Pigs, in which she attempts to explain "why young women today are embracing raunchy aspects of our culture that would likely have caused their feminist foremothers to vomit." In today's culture, Levy writes, the idea of a woman participating in a wet T-shirt contest or being comfortable watching explicit pornography has become a symbol of strength; she says that she was surprised at how many people, both men and women, working for programs such as Girls Gone Wild told her that this new "raunch" culture marked not the downfall of feminism but its triumph, but Levy was unconvinced.
Levy's work is anthologized in The Best American Essays of 2008, New York Stories, and 30 Ways of Looking at Hillary.
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