Review: The Best American Essays 2012

The Best American Essays edited by David Brooks

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Have you guys heard of Longreads? If you haven’t, it’s a website that aggregates the “best” (I use quotation marks to denote the subjectivity of this claim, not to be sarcastic) long-form stories on the Internet. While they do highlight fiction, I’m much more interested in the nonfiction essays. Between Longreads and Autostraddle’s fantastic feature “Things I Read That I Love”, I’ve come to love and adore the essay over the past year, so it was really a no-brainer to pick up The Best American Essays 2012 when I saw it on the new shelf at my home library. I usually don’t pick up collections like this, but I thought it would be a nice thing to peruse over the holidays.

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Review: In Other Worlds

In Other Worlds by Margaret Atwood

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Readers with long memories might recall that I attended one of Margaret Atwood’s Ellman lectures back in 2010, which was a fun experience—it’s always fantastic to see great authors talk about their work, and I enjoy the shadenfreude of wandering through college campuses much, much larger than mine. (I can wake up five minutes before class and still be on time! Well, I don’t, because I need food, exercise, and a shower before I am ready to face the day without regressing into a wombat, but the point still stands.) So when I heard that Atwood had expanded upon her lectures, themselves a pentinence for rejecting the label of science fiction, I was highly intrigued.

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Review: The Letter Q

The Letter Q edited by Sarah Moon

Obviously, it’s rather tempting to start off this review with a brief note to my younger self, mimicking the entire concept of The Letter Q, but you can’t fit a punch in the face in a letter, even a letter to the past. (Look, between a punch to the face and two years of Debate, I would have sprung for the punch in the face. It would have served the exact same function in my development.) I think I first heard of this collection via Malinda Lo, even though she’s not a contributor (EDIT: she is!), and I knew I wanted to read it—besides being a treasury of good advice, David Levithan, Gregory Maguire, and Erika Moen contributed pieces.

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Review: Rock and Roll is Here to Stay

Rock and Roll is Here to Stay edited by William McKeen

Every summer, I like to have a project, and this summer, it was supposed to be acquainting myself with film. Towards the end of the summer, however, it ended up acquainting myself with rock music. Part of the reason I read so voraciously is that I lack a lot of context, and one of those contexts is popular music. Hence The Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock and Roll. But while I was poking around the 800s in the nonfiction section at the library, I stumbled across this anthology and thought it sounded very interesting, so I determined to read it once I had an overview. And I ended up reading a six hundred page anthology while I desperately needed to boost my posting buffer. Of course.

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Review: In the Peanut Gallery with Mystery Science Theater 3000

In the Peanut Gallery with Mystery Science Theater 3000 edited by Robert G. Weiner and Shelley E. Barba

So there I am at Dragon*Con, wandering the dealer’s room, vacillating between my usual cheapness and a desire to buy everything. (Cheapness and a limited amount of things I can physically abscond with keeps me down.) And then I wander across McFarlane’s table, stacked high with academic books about popular culture, which boasts a copy of In the Peanut Gallery with Mystery Science Theater 3000, which I’d heard about via the magnificent Cleolinda Jones, who knows one of the contributors. While I try not to buy books sight unseen, especially at con, I already knew I’d never find it anywhere else, and home (or into the totebag) it went.

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Review: The Ecstasy of Influence

The Ecstasy of Influence by Jonathan Lethem

At the beginning of my reading career, I got a lot of recommendations from The New York Times, but that’s gone done in recent years, because I now have a thriving community of readers all around me tossing recommendations my way. But I still read the book section from time and time, and that’s where I found a review for The Ecstasy of Influence. I’d never heard of Jonathan Lethem in my life—although Motherless Brooklyn, one of his novels, sounds very familiar—but I’m always fond of authors examining “influence”, because it can lead to discussion about fannish experience, whether or not the author names them as such. As the summer began, I dove in—but I think I hit a roadblock pretty quickly…

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The Literary Horizon: The Madwoman in the Attic, Rereading Women

Well, it’s that time of my undergraduate career. It’s time for my senior thesis project. Well, not immediately—I’m a junior for a few days yet!—but I will be spending May buried under Jane Eyre, academic texts on Jane Eyre, and books derived from Jane Eyre. One text in particular that is on my reading list for this project is already on my reading list. Today’s selections even share an author, goodness.

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The Literary Horizon: In Other Worlds, As If

As much as I find myself not caring for those who don’t care for speculative fiction, respect must be given to those who are trying to negotiate their way towards a wholehearted embrace of the genre. And as academia and other institutions who were once resistant to the stuff open the doors, we end up with a lot of scholarly writing on speculative fiction and (of course!) on the fandom that grew from it.

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