The Best American Essays 2023

Mariner. Oct. 2023. 288p. ed. by Vivian Gornick & Robert Atwan. ISBN 9780063288843. pap. $18.99. LIT
Reading this annual collection is like catching up with an old friend after a year apart. It offers joy and comfort and a familiarity that is good for the heart and soul. This is the 38th and last edition that will be overseen by series editor Atwan, who contributes a foreword discussing the growth in popularity of the essay format since he founded the series. Guest editor Gornick selected 21 essays published in the past year in American and Canadian periodicals. “Revelation at the Food Bank” by Merrill Joan Gerber focuses on the comfort the author receives from the friendly volunteers at the drive-through food bank line during the pandemic and reflects on 62 years of marriage. “Bidders of Din” by Eric Borsuk describes his time in federal prison after robbing a Kentucky university’s rare book library. “Eat, Prey, Love” by Kathryn Schulz is an overview of the contentious story of a fawn in Felix Salten’s 1922 novel Bambi, a Life in the Woods.
VERDICT An excellent compendium of the year’s best writing. Highly recommended for writing students, book discussion groups, and fans of the essay format.
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