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The Best American Magazine Writing 2001 written by Harold M. Evans

 

The Best American Magazine Writing 2001 written by Harold M. Evans

Overview:

In the world of magazines, no recognition is more highly coveted than an "Ellie," the National Magazine Award presented by the American Society of Magazine Editors to the best of the American magazines. The Awards are the magazine equivalents to the Pulitzer Prizes of the newspaper industry. Each year, hundreds of editors-in-chief, journalism professors, and art directors winnow more than a thousand submissions to about seventy-five nominees in categories such as Reporting, Feature Writing, Profiles, Public Interest, Essays, Reviews and Criticism. Interest in the nominees is keen, and this collection will allow people both in the magazine world and beyond to find in one place, read, and admire the year's best. It is a wonderful, browsable volume of interest to writers and readers who appreciate magazine writing and journalism at its highest level.

Synopsis:

A discerning collection of great magazine pieces drawn from the winners of and nominees for the prestigious National Magazine Awards

KLIATT

This second annual collection by the American Society of Magazine Editors offers 18 essays and one short story chosen as the best in categories such as feature writing, criticism, profiles, and public interest. (Poetry is not included, nor is photography.) Of the hundreds of magazines published in the U.S., only 13 are represented here. Some selections emphasize the writer's personal experiences. Gretel Ehrlich reports on a hunting party in Greenland where she oddly urges the hunters not to kill their prey, and Robert Kurson tells about going to visit a former high school teacher who is in prison for sexually assaulting and murdering teenage boys. In a delightful rumination on how mail has changed from the 19th century to the age of email, Anne Fadiman gives us a peek at her famous father as well as at the invention of the postage stamp. Most of the essays are less personal but equally stylish. One of the most interesting is William Langewiesche's "The Million-Dollar Nose," a profile of Robert Parker, whose writing on wine has transformed an industry and affected international relationships. Political writing comes plain (hard-hitting reports from Time magazine on the corruption money brings to politics) and fancy (David Foster Wallace on the road with John McCain for Rolling Stone). Donna Tartt's appreciation of J.F. Powers provides a useful service, but James Wolcott's attempt to resuscitate Bobby Darin's reputation seems more an exercise in irony than an actual analysis. Younger readers, attuned to the pleasures of TV marketing, might especially enjoy the essay on the pitchmen (and inventors) of the Veg-O-Matic and the Ronco Showtime Rotisserie. The author makes theargument that if such hucksters had invented the VCR we'd actually be able to use them for more than playing movies. The lone short story, Robert Olen Butler's "Fair Warning," first published in Zoetrope: All-Story, provides a clever first-person narrative of an auctioneer who wins the bid for her own independence, but is it the absolute "best" magazine story of the year? The helpful list of finalists in all categories gives the readers some other leads. School librarians and teachers should be warned: contemporary magazine writing has become steadily more vulgar in diction and topic. Elizabeth Gilbert's profile of Hank Williams's grandson is replete with crude language, and some of the other essays have passages not suitable for classroom use. Category: Collections. KLIATT Codes: SA—Recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2001, Perseus, Public Affairs, 477p., $15.00. Ages 16 to adult. Reviewer: Michael P. Healy; English Teacher, Wood River H.S., Hailey, ID SOURCE: KLIATT, March 2002 (Vol. 36, No. 2)

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