The Best American Essays of the Centuryby Joyce Carol Oates
Pub. Date: 10/28/2001
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
This singular collection is nothing less than a political, spiritual, and intensely personal record of America’s tumultuous modern age, as experienced by our foremost critics, commentators, activists, and artists. Joyce Carol Oates has collected a group of works that are both intimate and important, essays that move from personal experience to larger… See more details below
This singular collection is nothing less than a political, spiritual, and intensely personal record of America’s tumultuous modern age, as experienced by our foremost critics, commentators, activists, and artists. Joyce Carol Oates has collected a group of works that are both intimate and important, essays that move from personal experience to larger significance without severing the connection between speaker and audience.
From Ernest Hemingway covering bullfights in Pamplona to Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” these essays fit, in the words of Joyce Carol Oates, “into a kind of mobile mosaic suggest[ing] where we’ve come from, and who we are, and where we are going.” Among those whose work is included are Mark Twain, John Muir, T. S. Eliot, Richard Wright, Vladimir Nabokov, James Baldwin, Tom Wolfe, Susan Sontag, Maya Angelou, Alice Walker, Joan Didion, Cynthia Ozick, Saul Bellow, Stephen Jay Gould, Edward Hoagland, and Annie Dillard.
Table of Contents
Contents Foreword by Robert Atwan : x Introduction by Joyce Carol Oates : xvii 1901 : Mark Twain Corn-pone Opinions : 1 1903 : W.E.B. Du Bois Of the Coming of John : 6 1906 : Henry Adams A Law of Acceleration : 20 1909 : John Muir Stickeen : 28 1910 : William James The Moral Equivalent of War : 45 1911 : Randolph Bourne The Handicapped : 57 1912 : John Jay Chapman Coatesville : 71 1916 : Jane Addams The Devil Baby at Hull-House : 75 1919 : T. S. Eliot Tradition and the Individual Talent : 90 1923 : Ernest Hemingway Pamplona in July : 98 1925 : H. L. mencken The Hills of Zion : 107 1928 : Zora Neale Hurston How It Feels to Be Colored Me : 114 1933 : Edmund Wilson The Old Stone House : 118 1935 : Gertrude Stein What Are Master-pieces and Why Are There So Few of Them : 131 1936 : F. Scott Fitzgerald The Crack-Up : 139 1937 : James Thurber Sex Ex Machina : 153 1937 : Richard Wright The Ethics of Living Jim Crow: An Autobiographical Sketch : 159 1938 : James Agee Knoxville: Summer of 1915 : 171 1939 : Robert Frost The Figure a Poem Makes : 176 1941 : E. B. White Once More to the Lake : 179 1944 : S. J. Perelman Insert Flap “A” and Throw Away : 186 1949 : Langston Hughes Bop : 190 1950 : Katherine Anne Porter The Future Is Now : 193 1953 : Mary Mccarthy Artists in Uniform : 199 1955 : Rachel Carson The Marginal World : 214 1955 : James Baldwin Notes of a Native Son : 220 1956 : Loren Eiseley The Brown Wasps : 239 1957 : Eudora Welty A Sweet Devouring : 246 1961 : Donald Hall A Hundred Thousand Straightened Nails : 252 1963 : Martin Luther King, Jr.
Letter from Birmingham Jail : 263 1964 : Tom Wolfe Putting Daddy On : 280 1964 : Susan Sontag Notes on “Camp” : 288 1966 : Vladimir Nabokov Perfect Past : 303 1967 : N. Scott Momaday The Way to Rainy Mountain : 313 1968 : Elizabeth Hardwick The Apotheosis of Martin Luther King : 319 1969 : Michael Herr Illumination Rounds : 327 1970 : Maya Angelou I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings : 342 1971 : Lewis Thomas The Lives of a Cell : 358 1972 : John Mcphee The Search for Marvin Gardens : 361 1972 : William H. Gass The Doomed in Their Sinking : 373 1975 : Maxine Hong Kingston No Name Woman : 383 1975 : Alice Walker Looking for Zora : 395 1977 : Adrienne Rich Women and Honor: Some Notes on Lying : 412 1979 : Joan Didion The White Album : 421 1980 : Richard Rodriguez Aria: A Memoir of a Bilingual Childhood : 447 1981 : Gretel Ehrlich The Solace of Open Spaces : 467 1982 : Annie Dillard Total Eclipse : 477 1982 : Cynthia Ozick A Drugstore in Winter : 490 1987 : William Manchester Okinawa: The Bloodiest Battle of All : 497 1988 : Edward Hoagland Heaven and Nature : 507 1989 : Stephen Jay Gould The Creation Myths of Cooperstown : 520 1990 : Gerald Early Life with Daughters: Watching the Miss America Pageant : 532 1993 : John Updike The Disposable Rocket : 549 1995 : Joyce Carol Oates They All Just Went Away : 553 1997 : Saul Bellow Graven Images : 564 Biographical Notes : 569 Appendix: Notable Twentieth-Century American Literary Nonfiction : 591
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A nice spread. Goes to show that writing well is diverse in purpose. It's seems harder to give time to reading for pleasure nowadays. There are so many ways. But if you appreciate a good read, skip through it, and give it a couple tastes. Some of them seem like short stories, or a syndicated columnist's "Thought for the Day". I was surprised in their diversity. And enjoyed quite a few. Here's a few I liked - 1901 Mark Twain "Corn-pone Opinions" page 1 *; 1903 W.E.B. Du Bois "Of the Coming of John" page 6; 1923 Ernest Hemingway "Pamplona in July" page 98; 1925 H.L. Mencken "The Hills of Zion" page 107 *; 1937 James Thurber "Sex Ex Machina" page 153; 1961 Donald Hall "A Hundred Thousand Straightened Nails" page 252 *; 1981 Gretel Ehrlich "The Solace of Open Spaces" page 467; 1969 Michael Herr "Illumination Rounds" page 327 *; 1970 Maya Angelou "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" page 342; 1993 John Updike "The Disposable Rocket" page 549 *. << * Special mentions. In particular, Twain and Mencken were high school favorites. "The Hills of Zion" was new to me. Or maybe I just forgot.>> Things read differently now than when I was in school. I know the writing hasn't changed.