"[T]he most grown-up young adult fiction excerpts ever compiled."Allegra Muzzillo, Black Book
"If only this book were mandatory in schools!"Seventeen
"...[A]n impressive job of collecting..."Rob Walker The Wall Street Journal
There's nothing compulsory about Dave Eggers's rambunctious anthology of magazine and webzine pieces. The stories, articles, and spoofs that he has pillaged from a cacophonous medley of sources are hip, quick, and saucy. A staggering work of irreverent genius and gobs of fun.
Though it sold briskly when first published in 1866, Toilers of the Sea, by Victor Hugo (1802-1885), is rarely read in the U.S. today. In time for the bicentenary of Hugo's birth, Modern Library has commissioned a new translation by Scot James Hogarth for the first unabridged English edition of the novel, which tells the story of an illiterate fisherman from the Channel Islands who must free a ship that has run aground in order to win the hand of the woman he loves, a shipowner's daughter. Gilliat, the embattled fisherman, contends with sea storms and monstrous predators that Hugo describes in exhilarating detail. Intended to be part of a triptych with Les Miserables and The Hunchback of Notre-Dame, the book laments the living conditions of impoverished workers, while celebrating their ingenuity and discipline. (Sept. 17) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Many will be drawn to this anthology for the enormous popularity of Eggers (A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius), who helped young adult literature expert Cart compile the fiction and nonfiction pieces presented here. But this inaugural title in Houghton's newest "Best American" series deserves at least as much attention for the remarkable scope and quality of its works. The 20-plus pieces-some shorter than two pages, some longer than 20-were previously published in various American periodicals (e.g., The New Yorker, Vibe) and cover just about any subject that today's youth (defined as "the under-25 set") would be most interested in reading when not reading a "required" text for a class. These include pop culture and music topics, explorations of identity crises or dysfunctional families, and a poignant tale of surviving culture shock. Then there are the less predictable essays, which include hard-core investigative reporting on politics and international affairs. Much of the writing resembles Eggers's, but it doesn't lack originality and the necessary wit. There is enough rareness here to provoke heavy circulation in both public and academic libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 6/1/02.]-Mirela Roncevic, "Library Journal" Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Fiction and nonfiction pulled from the main- and side-stream by McSweeney's editor Eggers, founder of a San Francisco writing lab for city youth, is the latest in Houghton Mifflin's Great American Series. Even with forewords from inaugural guest editor Eggers (A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, 2000) and series editor Michael Cart, a well-known YA author, the new category "nonrequired" is less than clear. Even so, there are pieces from old standbys Esquire, Atlantic Monthly, the New York Times Magazine, and, yes, the New Yorker, cheek by jowl with bits from the Onion, Optic Nerve, Spin, and ZYZZYVA. Though aimed at younger-than-boomer readers, the pieces are not necessarily by or about the less-than-middle-aged. Eric Schlosser's "Why McDonald's French Fries Taste So Good" is a fascinating but almost geekily well-researched piece about the flavor enhancement biz; it educates even though it was probably chosen to appeal to vegan terrorists and their supporters. Adrian Tomine's "Bomb Scare," from Optic Nerve, is a gloomy and graphic high-school-life-sucks-so-bad piece that goes on nearly as long as high school. Karl Taro Greenfield's "Speed Demons," from Time, clearly explains the appeal of meth and other uppers. While a number of pieces have been included as comic relief, only David Sedaris (unsurprisingly) and the Onion bits ("Local Hipster Overexplaining Why He Was At The Mall" and "Marilyn Manson Now Going Door To Door Trying To Shock People") are likely to crack anybody up. Perhaps the truly cool don't want to be caught guffawing. Rodney Rothman's almost-nonfiction "My Fake Job," disowned by the New Yorker, is amusing but so dryly that there's no danger of snorting or snotflying. The sentimental favorite is a long, wonderful piece from Sports Illustrated, of all places, by Gary Smith, about a black coach who brings magic to an Amish community in Ohio. Readers who aren't reduced to blubbering should seek medical attention. An alternative to the Banana Republic gift certificate for that difficult nephew with a birthday.