We haven't yet seen the table of contents, much less the copy for the latest installment of Mariner's ever-popular Best American Travel Writing annual anthology, but we do know two things: First, that ever since General editor Jason Wilson launched the series in 2000, he has selected guests editors with distinctive tastes that have made each issue delightfully refreshing. (The list includes Bill Bryson, Susan Orlean, Anthony Bourdain, and Jamaica Kincaid.) Second, this year he has chosen the hilarious and very talented Sloane Crossley, the author of I Was Told There'd Be Cake and How Did You Get This Number. With those morsels in mind, we have no hesitation offering our hearty recommendation.
The Best American Travel Writing 2011by Sloane Crosley
First, Best, and Best-Selling
The Best American series is the premier annual showcase for the country’s finest short fiction and nonfiction. Each volume’s series editor selects notable works from hundreds of magazines, journals, and websites . A special guest editor, a leading writer in the field, then chooses the best
The Best American Series®
First, Best, and Best-Selling
The Best American series is the premier annual showcase for the country’s finest short fiction and nonfiction. Each volume’s series editor selects notable works from hundreds of magazines, journals, and websites . A special guest editor, a leading writer in the field, then chooses the best twenty or so pieces to publish. This unique system has made the Best American series the most respected—and most popular—of its kind.
The Best American Travel Writing 2011 includes
André Aciman, Christopher Buckley, Maureen Dowd,
Verlyn Klinkenborg, Ariel Levy, Téa Obreht, Annie Proulx,
Gary Shteyngart, William T. Vollmann,
Emily Witt, and others
"[Crosley's] selections succeed in piquing the armchair traveler’s wanderlust."
An eclectic but not particularly strong collection of pieces involving travel around the globe and around the yard.
Independent columnist Crosley (How Did You Get This Number, 2010, etc.) presents a wide variety of pieces, including André Aciman's search for Monet sites in Bordighera, Christopher Buckley's brief account of a year on a tramp freighter, Keith Gessen's grousings about Moscow traffic and Emily Witt's sophomoric snippets about her drinking and partying in Miami. At times, Crosley seems bent on juxtaposing pieces to see what light may emerge from the collision, say, between Téa Obreht's peregrinations in the Balkans hearing vampire stories and Annie Proulx's quiet walks around her Wyoming ranch observing the wildlife. At other times, the editor places shorter pieces (Gary Shteyngart's cryptic ruminations about Russians in Israel) before longer ones (William T. Vollmann's six visits to Kirkuk to learn about the Kurds and the explosive politics in the region). There are essays by writers who went to geographical extremes (Justin Nobel to Arctic Quebec, Verlyn Klinkenborg to a remote area of Australia, Maureen Dowd to Saudi Arabia) and those who stuck closer to home (Ariel Levy to the Hamptons for an enlightening piece about Indian casinos, Jessica McCaughey on a local hike where she tried to cure her inept internal GPS). Some pieces have moments that are downright harrowing: Mischa Berlinski's views of earthquake devastation in Haiti, Tom Ireland's time in Mumbai while terrorists were killing people.
Although these writers invariably have something novel to say, there aren't a lot of moments that will make armchair travelers race out to renew their passports.
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Meet the Author
Sloane Crosley is the author I Was Told There'd Be Cake, which was a finalist for the Thurber Prize for American Humor. Her second collection, How Did You Get This Number, finds her riffing on European vacation disasters and doing bridesmaid duty in Alaska.
JASON WILSON, series editor, is the author of Boozehound: On the Trail of the Rare, the Obscure, and the Overrated in Spirits and the digital wine series Planet of the Grapes. He has written for the Washington Post, the Boston Globe, the Philadelphia Daily News, and many other publications. He is the founding editor of The Smart Set and Table Matters.
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I have bee reading this collection every year since it began in 2000. It has never let me down. Of course some sections are better than others but most are excellent.