Author : Dave Eggers ISBN : 0547577435 Publisher : Mariner Books; 1 Original edition

The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2011 is an anthology comprising of a set of fictional and non-fictional works of different authors and writes, in the form of short stories, essays, lists, and comics, which are in fact chosen and compiled together as one piece of literature annually by a group of high school students who fall under the reading population of California and Michigan. These books have always been considered as a convenient means to come across new writers and authors by many, as the reading population within the society seeks more recreation.

This year's edition features an introduction by Guillermo Del Toro, the renowned Mexican filmmaker whose work Pan's Labyrinth appealed to many worldwide, followed by a series of short stories and essays that make up to this bulk of writings. There's this short story called Orange by Neil Gaiman where a teenage girl is interviewed by the police to investigate about her sister who uses an experimental dye for self-tanning. Besides short stories, the book contains several essays, many worth reading such as For Us Surrender is Out of the Question by Mac McClelland, one of the human rights reporters who traveled to Thailand with an objective to teach English to Karen activists who had vowed to bring into light, the darker scenes of the military infestation in Burma. The book also contains an interesting comic illustration by James Strum, which narrates the story of a Jewish rug-maker spending his day at a local country market.

Like every year's edition, this one too consists of some mundane works and shibboleth; however, you are bound to encounter some cogitative pieces of art too. The narration in most of the short stories radiates art and the storylines are pretty intriguing. The Deep by Anthony Doerr is the best amongst all; a story of a boy with a bad heart growing up in Detroit during the turbulent times before the Great Depression, it certainly projects an evolved dimension of art.

The book also contains a literature marvel by William Deresiewicz called Solitude and Leadership, a non-fictional essay or rather a class address at a military officer school; holding significant reference to Joseph Conrad's patriotic novella called Heart of Darkness, it brews the essence of wisdom to portray the difference between autonomy and bureaucracy, bringing into light the significance of contemplation and the hazards of disorientation and deviation.

The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2011's peculiarity remains in the fact that it contains a section called Best American, which comprises of various nouns, adjectives, and verbs from the reportings on the gulf oil spill that happened in 2010. Some of them include flat footed, blew, oozing, k-holes, foxes in fiction, blind shear ram, billions of fish eggs etc. The possible reasoning behind the inclusion of this vague section traces back to the high-school students who spend days and nights compiling together the remains of an old American bookshelf.

One line review - Some say it's the best in the series, some say it's the worst; but it's certainly a convenient way to explore different flavors of literature in one book.

Nhut Pham

Nhut Pham

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