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The Best American Spiritual Writing 2004

Overview

Since its inception in 1915, the Best American series has become the premier annual showcase for the country's finest short fiction and nonfiction. For each volume, a series editor reads pieces from hundreds of periodicals, then selects between fifty and a hundred outstanding works. That selection is pared down to twenty or so very best pieces by a guest editor who is widely recognized as a leading writer in his or her field. This unique system has helped make the Best American ...

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Overview

Since its inception in 1915, the Best American series has become the premier annual showcase for the country's finest short fiction and nonfiction. For each volume, a series editor reads pieces from hundreds of periodicals, then selects between fifty and a hundred outstanding works. That selection is pared down to twenty or so very best pieces by a guest editor who is widely recognized as a leading writer in his or her field. This unique system has helped make the Best American series the most respected—and most popular—of its kind.
The latest addition to the esteemed Best American series is a collection of the best spiritual writing of the year, introduced by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jack Miles and including both prose and poetry. Series editor Philip Zaleski has chosen the volume's pieces with an eye to spirituality's many guises, from its impact on personal relationships and the environment to politics, creativity, and literature. Christian, Muslim, Jewish, secular, and pan-Hindu perspectives are all represented in these pieces, which have been selected from both mainstream and more specialized periodicals.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The collection is a thought-provoking and often poignant read." Publishers Weekly, Starred
Publishers Weekly
Readers of Zaleski's anthologies will be glad to know that, after a yearlong hiatus, his spirituality series has found a new home with Houghton Mifflin's Best American books. This sixth volume follows the expected format: some 25 essays and 10 poems that, according to the introduction, "address the eternal oppositions of good and evil, virtue and vice, creation and destruction; the sorrows and exaltations of heart, mind, and soul; the ceaseless quest for God." With approaches ranging from Seyyed Hossein Nasr's philosophical argument for the primacy of consciousness to Mark Doty's ecstatic vision of "fire [calling] its double down," the collection includes household names like Natalie Goldberg and Oliver Sacks alongside newer authors. Bus driver Robin Cody, for example, pays touching tribute to "birth-damaged or world-beaten children," and memoirist Lindsey Crittenden describes depression, death, her mother and the kind of prayer that is "pure throw of yourself into the unknown." Welcoming varied perspectives, Zaleski includes David Gelernter's summary of Judaism as well as a sprinkling of overt Buddhists and Christians, though most selections transcend religious categories. A large number, like David James Duncan's "Earth Music" and Allen Hoey's "Essay on Snow," focus on the natural world, while some, like B.K. Loren's "Word Hoard," resist classification. With few misses and many hits, the collection is a thought-provoking and often poignant read. (Oct. 14) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780618443031
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 10/14/2004
  • Series: Best American Spiritual Writing Series
  • Pages: 306
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.69 (d)

Table of Contents

Foreword
Introduction
A Texas childhood 1
Parable 18
Hidden city 19
Miss Ivory Broom 20
Here and now we are walking together 28
Parable of the moth 31
The water will hold you : a daughter at prayer 33
Fire to fire 44
Earth music 47
The green-eyed monster : envy is nothing to be jealous of 53
Masao Abe : a spiritual friendship 58
Fifteen ways of seeing the light 70
Judaism beyond words : conclusion 86
The great spring 100
Essay on snow 107
Beneath the apple 114
Grandmothers 116
The lesson 123
Word hoard 125
Good grief 128
Designer genes 136
To the fire 149
Physics and grief 151
In the beginning was consciousness 168
The grace of aridity and other comedies 182
Annie mirror heart 188
Ah, but the breezes ... 204
Fighting the noonday devil 211
For the war dead 223
The mind's eye : what the blind see 224
The birth 245
God's delight 254
Doves 257
Spokane : a triptych 259
The visiting 267
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