The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2012

Author: Dave Eggers (series editor), Ray Bradbury (introduction)

Type: Fiction, non-fiction, short stories, essays, comics, poetry, humor (anthology)

Published: 2012

I read it: August 2013

best 2012

Another expectedly excellent collection. The only bummer is no front section for “Best American New Band Names.” Boo! I looked forward to that part every year. Well, at least it contains…

  • “Best American Lonely Guy.” A lonely guy named Jeff posts a single flyer with his phone number in NYC and gets inundated with calls of all sorts.
  • “An Oral History of Olivia Hamilton” by Olivia Hamilton, Robin Levi, and Ayelet Waldman. Pregnancy in prison with little humanity to spare.
  • “Redeployment” by Phil Klay. A modern soldier returns home. Fact or fiction? Doesn’t matter, still devastates.
  • “Bellwether” by Mark Robert Rapacz. Small rural family in its own cocoon of relational ties.
  • “Tenth of December” by George Saunders. Shimmering wintry tale of two males who intersect on the cusp of death.
  • “Peyton’s Place” by John Jeremiah Sullivan. Fantastically funny narrative of a man whose home was used as the set for certain One Tree Hill episodes.
  • “Outlaw” by Jose Antonio Vargas. An illegal immigrant as a child has worked hard and struggles with honestly revealing his status as an adult.
  • “The Amazing Adventures of Phoenix Jones” by Jon Ronson. A firsthand account of real-life superheroes. I will always remember reading this one late at night in the hospital room when Laura was in slow labor and trying to rest.
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