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

STEVEN HARVEY   The Other Steve Harvey   43
       from Michigan Quarterly Review

ALAN LIGHTMAN   What Came Before the Big Bang?   54
       from Harper's Magazine

EMILY MALONEY   Cost of Living   78
       from The Virginia Quarterly Review

GREG MARSHALL   If I Only Had a Leg   84
       from Electronic Literature

BERNARD FARAI MATAMBO   Working the City   97
       from Transition

KENNETH A. McCLANE   Sparrow Needy   110
       from Kenyon Review

KATHERINE VENABLE   The Book of the Dead   117
       from Oxford American

WESLEY MORRIS   Last Taboo   127
       from The New York Times Magazine

CHRISTOPHER NOTARNICOLA   Indigent Disposition   132
       from North American Review

MEGHAN O'GIEBLYN   Dispatch from Flyover Country   147
       from The Threepenny Review

KAREN PALMER   The Reader Is the Protagonist   155
       from The Virginia Quarterly Review

       from n+1

HEATHER SELLERS   Haywire   171
       from Tin House

ANDREA STUART   Travels in Pornland   182
       from Granta

JUNE THUNDERSTORM   Revenge of the Mouthbreathers: A Smoker's Manifesto   194
       from The Baffler

ALIA VOLZ   Snakebit   211
       from The Threepenny Review     

ALIA VOLZ   Snakebit
       from The Threepenny Review

Contributors’ Notes   285

Notable Essays and Literary Nonfiction of 2017   291

Notable Special Issues of 2016   301

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