The Best American Essays, 2006. Yep, 2006.

Had some nice chunks of time to read this last week, and one of the books I savored was The Best American Essays, 2006. Yes, a little late on my part, but it was a serious bargain, scooped up from a remainder table for $2.99, and wonderful too.

If you haven't ever read a volume from this collection, I so recommend that you do. Each anthology has a different guest editor, and consequently a very different feel to the book. This 2006 edition was edited by Lauren Slater, who tells a wonderful story in the introduction about finding her voice and genre as a writer after reading the 1988 version of this very series. It's a nice glimpse into a writer's world.

Many of the essays this time revolve around death somehow. The most powerful, to me, is one by Marjorie Williams that first ran in Vanity Fair in 2005 titled A Matter of Life and Death. Diagnosed with Stage 4B liver cancer (there is no stage 5, and no 4C either) in her early 40s, while mothering two young children, she wrote an unfinished memoir. This essay was assembled after her death from that manuscript. The piece is hauntingly beautiful and such a stunning show of grace, courage, and hope. Just gorgeous.

Another piece that slayed me was George by Sam Pickering. It's the story of a love affair between an older man and his dog, a man who's heart is broken open in the words he writes. A man of a certain generation who has learned to keep his emotions inside, to the point where his wife accuses him of not grieving the loss of their dog. But oh, does he write it. A love letter, brilliant in its simplicity and plainspokenness.

Reading about loss always gives me that heart stopping appreciation for my life. You consistently hear that people wish they had realized what was most important before the diagnosis, before the horrible news, before a loved one was lost forever. To me, this is a way into that space, without having to live it myself.

My grandmother, who is now ninety-eight, recently wrote me in one of her letters that
"I just don't think life is worth living without a good book to read." Ah, Gram, I agree with all of my being.

This book was such a satisfying read, one to truly savor. Such a gift to my heart. I hope it may be one for yours too.


  1. I love reading as you find your own voice.

    1. Thanks Heather. I'm trying:) Maybe this post every day thing will help free me up a bit from the overly critical inner voice that stops me sometimes. Hope you had a wonderful first day of 2013.


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