“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 the fall publication of Houghton Mifflin’s Best American Stories and Essays, which has been expanded in recent years to include Travel Writing, Mystery Writing, Sports Writing, Science Writing, Recipes and this year—a Dave Eggers (hmm) guest-edited Best Non-Essential Reading (more hmmm). Beyond my quibbles about the concept of ‘Best’ in play here, who can fault the beleaguered publisher for trying to cash in on a successful brand? This year’s Best Mystery Stories is guest-edited by that Madman from Missouri, James Ellroy, and it contains a wonderful excerpt from John Biguenet’s wonderful new novel, Oyster. I seem to have a weakness for the bayou cajun-set thriller. I loved the early James Lee Burke Dave Robicheux books as well as John Dufresne’s comic romps in the Louisiana parishes. Last week’s New Yorker actually had two pieces that was able to read in full: Franzen on William Gaddis and _______ on Harold Bloom and The NY Observer had Ron Rosenbaum unraveling the mystery of Robert Lowell’s various versions of poems that were used by Robert Stone as titles for his first novel, Hall of Mirrors, and the later and curiously overlooked and underrated Children of Light. Dave Eggers’ new novel, being published by his corporation McSweeney’s, apparently is being sold in stores despite the bulletins emanating from the young publishing juggernaut that it was only being sold online and that its 1st edition was a print run of 10,000. This number is rather sparse for a writer who will probably sell minimally a few hundred thousand copies. No doubt copious media attention will be devoted to all matters Eggers. What do I know? I’m still having to remind them on a regular basis that I signed up for a lifetime subscription in 1999…

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