The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2002
Publication Date: October 2002
Categories: American - General
This collection is the product of many heads. The writers included herein are from every background imaginable, and their stories create a crazy quilt of lived time in and around 2001.
This is The Best American Nonrequired Reading, intended to combine the best intentions of the other Best American volumes to create a collection with slightly younger readers. To that end, guest editor Dave Eggers worked with the students who attend and help teach at 826 Valencia, his writing lab in San Francisico, giving them hundreds of stories and articles to read and choose among. All of the selections inside have been read and found worthy by a small committee of readers in high school and college, and while there are patterns in what they chose -- for example, a stroing interest in goings-on not just in school but all over the world -- they've also guided this collection toward its utter undefinablility.
There are some really funny things, from the likes of David Sedaris, The Onion, and Modern Humorist, and some lighter fiction, as in David Schickler's "Fourth Angry Mouse" and Elizabeth McKenzie's "Stop That Girl," about a hellish trip to Switzerland that a twelve-year-old takes with her grandmother, but there's a seriousness throughout, with stories about immigrants from Mexico in Manhattan, young Afghani men vacillating between the Taliban and the Northern Alliance, and the black coach of a Pennsylvania Amish basketball team.
This collection is barely cohesive and often confusing. And this is good. Your own life, we bet, is barely cohesive and often confusing. And given how confused and wayward you are, we will help you do the right thing: read this and love it. The makers of The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2002 insist that you enjoy it and then tell your friends to enjoy it. This will give structure to your life and bounce to your steps.
Dave Eggers is the editor of McSweeney's and a cofounder of 826 National, a network of nonprofit writing and tutoring centers for youth, located in seven cities across the United States. He is the author of four books, including What Is the What and How We Are Hungry.