THE BEST AMERICAN ESSAYS 1986 by Elizabeth with Robert Atwan--Eds. Hardwick

THE BEST AMERICAN ESSAYS 1986

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KIRKUS REVIEW

This inaugural volume in an annual collection of best American essays features 17 selections and is edited by the estimable Elizabeth Hardwick. Among the best here are Donald Barthelme's ""Not-Knowing"" from The Georgia Review, a defense of postmodern writing exampled by Barthelme's showing of a short story in the making. Says Barthelme: ""Flannery O'Connor, an artist of the first rank, famously disliked anything that looked funny on the page, and her distaste has widely been taken as a tough-minded put-down of puerile experimentalism. But did she also dislike anything that looked funny on the wall? If so, a severe deprivation. Art cannot remain in one place. A certain amount of movement, up, down, across, even a gallop toward the past, is a necessary precondition."" Gore Vidal is represented here by a memorial essay, ""On Italo Calvino,"" that is both prickly and moving. Gerald Early writes about ""The Passing of Jazz's Old Guard: Remembering Charles Mingus, Thelonius Monk, and Sonny Stitt."" Others include the late Robert Fitzgerald, Joyce Carol Oates, William Gass, Cynthia Ozick, Anne Hollander and Julian Barnes. Ever-interesting but rarely passionate. Even so, a welcome book.

Pub Date: Oct. 30th, 1986
Publisher: Ticknor & Fields/Houghton Mifflin