The Best American Essays 1987

Edited and with an Introduction by Gay Talese
Robert Atwan, Series Editor

Guest editor Gay Talese has made this year's selections for The Best American Essays with an eye toward the risky, the provocative, the unexpected. He has looked for well-known writers breaking old barriers, for young up-and-comers whose voices startle with their power. Here, then, are the most talked about, most important, most memorable essays of the year — essays that inform, amuse, provoke, and tug at the heart.


Foreword by Robert Atwan    ix

Introduction by Gay Talese    xiii

JOHN BARTH.    Teacher    1
       from Harper's Magazine

RICHARD BEN CRAMER.    What Do You Think of Ted Williams Now?    16
       from Esquire

JOHN GREGORY DUNNE.    On Writing a Novel    52
       from Esquire

GRETEL EHRLICH.    Spring    58
       from Antaeus

DANIEL MARK EPSTEIN.    The Case of Harry Houdini    70
       from The New Criterion

JOSEPH EPSTEIN.    They Said You Was High Class    85
       from The American Scholar

GARY GIDDINS.    "This Guy Wouldn't Give You the Parsley off His Fish"    101
       from The Grand Street

DONALD HALL.    Winter    116
       from Hood Museum of Art exhibition catalogue

PHILLIP LOPATE.    Against Joie de Vivre    131
       from Ploughshares

BARRY LOPEZ.    The Stone Horse    151
       from Antaeus

ELTING E. MORISON.    The Master Builder    162
       from American Heritage of Invention & Technology

WILLIAM PFAFF.    The Lay Intellectual (Apologia Pro Vita Sua)    172
       from Salmagundi

SAMUEL PICKERING, JR.    Pictures    181
       from The Southern Review

GREGOR VON REZZORI.    A Stranger in Lolitaland    197
       from Vanity Fair

PHYLLIS ROSE.    Tools of Torture: An Essay on Beauty and Pain    221
       from The Atlantic

SCOTT RUSSELL SANDERS.    The Inheritance of Tools    226
       from The North American Review

ROBERT STONE.    A Higher Horror of the Whiteness: Cocaine's Coloring of the American Psyche    235
       from Harper's Magazine

CALVIN TRILLIN.    Rumors Around Town    245
       from The New Yorker

GEOFFREY C. WARD.    Tiger in the Road!    269
       from Audubon

TOM WOLFE.    Land of Wizards    298
       from Popular Mechanics

Biographical Notes    315

Notable Essays of 1986    319

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