. by

book reviews





send email

© Bella Stander

book reviews

The Best American Essays 2000
by Alan Lightman, Editor
(Houghton Mifflin)

November/December 2000

by Bella Stander

Despite the title of this series, edited by Robert Atwan, guest editor Lightman admits that he "can make no claim that these twenty-one pieces were the 'best essays' of the past year." Still, it's unlikely that there were many better ones. They vary widely in subject, style and tone--sometimes disconcertingly so due to their being arranged alphabetically by writer, rather than by theme. So we move from the wry and dreamy "The Last Time I Saw Paris," by André Aciman to Wendell Berry's cogently reasoned "In Distrust of Movements" and then to Ian Buruma on "The Joys and Perils of Victimhood." Later essays treat charity, an organ transplant, loss of a father, brain damage--the world, in fact; and like it, too large and varied to be absorbed in just one sitting. Lightman sums up these works best: "(T)hey made me think, they got under my skin, they took me on journeys, they made me feel alive."

© 2000 Bella Stander

book reviews   interviews   articles

links   home   send email