The Best American Essays 2018

Edited and with an Introduction by Hilton Als
Robert Atwan, Series Editor

"THE ESSAY, LIKE LOVE, like life, is indefinable, but you know an essay when you see it, and you know a great one when you feel it, because it's concentrated life," writes Hilton Als in his introduction. Expertly guided by Als's instinct and intellect, The Best American Essays 2018 showcases great essays as well as irresistibly eclectic ones. Go undercover in North Korea, delve into the question of race in the novels of William Faulkner, hang out in the 1970s New York music scene, and take a family road trip cum art pilgrimage. These experiences and more immersive slices of concentrated life await.

Copyright © 2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company
Introduction copyright © 2019 by Hilton Als
ISBN 978-0-544-81734-0


Foreword     ix

Introduction     xviii

MARILYN ABILDSKOV   The Trick: Notes Toward a Theory of Plot   1
       from The Gettysburg Review

NOAM CHOMSKY   Prospects for Survival   8
       from The Massachusetts Review

PAUL CRENSHAW   Cadence   24
       from Hotel Amerika

EDWIDGE DANTICAT   All the Home You've Got  37
       from Freeman's

(START HERE) RACHEL KUSHNER   "We Are Orphans Here"   60
       from The New York Times Magazine

ALAN LIGHTMAN   What Came Before the Big Bang?   72
       from Harper's Magazine

EMILY MALONEY   Cost of Living   82
       from The Virginia Quarterly Review

GREG MARSHALL   If I Only Had a Leg   91
       from Electronic Literature

BERNARD FARAI MATAMBO   Working the City   104
       from Transition

KENNETH A. McCLANE   Sparrow Needy   115
       from Kenyon Review

KATHERINE VENABLE   The Book of the Dead   128
       from Oxford American

WESLEY MORRIS   Last Taboo   160
       from The New York Times Magazine

CHRISTOPHER NOTARNICOLA   Indigent Disposition   176
       from North American Review

MEGHAN O'GIEBLYN   Dispatch from Flyover Country   180
       from The Threepenny Review

KAREN PALMER   The Reader Is the Protagonist   192
       from The Virginia Quarterly Review

       from n+1

HEATHER SELLERS   Haywire   232
       from Tin House

ANDREA STUART   Travels in Pornland   252
       from Granta

JUNE THUNDERSTORM   Revenge of the Mouthbreathers: A Smoker's Manifesto   267
       from The Baffler

ALIA VOLZ   Snakebit   275
       from The Threepenny Review

Contributors’ Notes   285

Notable Essays and Literary Nonfiction of 2016   291

Notable Special Issues of 2016   301

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