“One of the seasonal blessings of each year is the fall publication of Houghton Mifflin’s Best American…” –Oct. 2, 2002

One of the seasonal blessings of each year is thefall publication of Houghton Mifflin’s Best American Storiesand Essays, which has been expanded in recent years to includeTravel Writing, Mystery Writing, Sports Writing, Science Writing,Recipes and this year—a Dave Eggers(hmm) guest-edited BestNon-Essential Reading (more hmmm). Beyond my quibbles about theconcept of ‘Best’ in play here, who can fault the beleagueredpublisher for trying to cash in on a successful brand? This year’sBest Mystery Stories is guest-edited by that Madman from Missouri,James Ellroy, and it contains a wonderfulexcerpt from John Biguenet’s wonderful new novel, Oyster.I seem to have a weakness for the bayou cajun-set thriller. I lovedthe early James Lee Burke Dave Robicheux books as well as John Dufresne’scomic romps in the Louisiana parishes.

Last week’s New Yorker actually hadtwo pieces that was able to read in full: Franzen on William Gaddisand _______ on Harold Bloom and The NY Observer had Ron Rosenbaumunraveling the mystery of Robert Lowell’s various versionsof poems that were used by RobertStone as titles for his first novel, Hall of Mirrors,and the later and curiously overlooked and underrated Childrenof Light.

Dave Eggers’ new novel, being published byhis corporation McSweeney’s, apparently is being sold in storesdespite the bulletins emanating from the young publishing juggernautthat it was only being sold online and that its 1st edition wasa print run of 10,000. This number is rather sparse for a writerwho will probably sell minimally a few hundred thousand copies.No doubt copious media attention will be devoted to all mattersEggers. What do I know? I’m still having to remind them ona regular basis that I signed up for a lifetime subscription in1999…

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