Angell, Roger, “Movie Kid,” in Let Me Finish, Harcourt, 2006. A great little essay on what it was like to be the first generation of kids to grow up with the motion picture. (Angell is in his seventies.) It gave me insight into my own mother, who did many of the same things Angell did (sneaking into films, dressing like movie stars, learning a new culture), as well as insight into the Xers, who were the first generation to grow up with computers.
Angell, Roger, “Andy,” in Let Me Finish, Harcourt, 2006. Another marvellous essay, this one on his stepfather, E.B. White. Touching and insightful, this is a must-read.
Brod, D.C., “My Heroes Have Always Been Shortstops,” in Chicago Blues, edited by Libby Fischer Hellman, Bleak House, 2007. Anyone who read F&SF when I was editor knows I love baseball stories. And this is one of the best baseball stories I’ve ever read. It captures what it means to be a TruFan. (Although painting the cat with the Cubs logo might have taken things too far. Note that I don’t object to the story’s crime as taking things too far…
Guilfoile, Kevin, “O Death Where Is Thy Sting?” in Chicago Blues, edited by Libby Fischer Hellman, Bleak House, 2007. A fascinating short story on collecting and obsession. One of several excellent stories in a very good anthology.
Sandford, John, Hidden Prey, Berkeley, 2005. I don’t know how I missed Sanford over the years, but this is the first of his that I’ve read. Great voice, nice wry sense of humor to go with the thriller plot. But what made the book for me was his treatment of Northern Minnesota, particularly Duluth and the Iron Range. I grew up there, and have found that although a few writers have tried, none have managed to capture the isolation, beauty, and sense of community in the area like Sandford has. Worth it just for the local color. All the other good stuff is a bonus.
Surowiecki, James, “The Financial Page: If You Can Make It Here,” in The New Yorker, October 22, 2007. For anyone who wants to understand why New York is the center of arts and culture (and for all of you who constantly ask me why the center of publishing is still in New York).
Switzer, Kathrine, Marathon Woman: Running The Race to Revolutionize Women’s Sports, Carroll and Graf, 2007. Switzer is the woman who nearly got thrown out of the Boston Marathon in 1967. In those days, women weren’t allowed to run in marathons. The first part of this book in particular is a great story of courage and single-mindedness with an openness not found in most memoirs. Recommended.