Nonrequired, but tasty

Fans of Zadie Smith will be glad to know that she has editedwritten the introduction to this year’s Best American Nonrequired Reading anthology, forthcoming from Houghton Mifflin in October. The anthology is intended to collect “the finest, most interesting, and least expected fiction, nonfiction, humor, alternative comics, and more from publications large, small, and online.”

Dave Eggers, who edited the anthology last year, is also the editor this time around.

I enjoyed much of the 2002 anthology, and I plan to pick up the new one, but for a reasonable opposing viewpoint take a look at JR Norton’s unenthusiastic review of last year’s collection. (Thanks to Ed for the links.)

Norton charges that the title of the anthology “neatly sidesteps what the book should actually be called, which is The Disjointed Collection of Somewhat Familiar Articles and Stories That Dave Eggers Read and Liked Last Year and Is Now a Book.”

According to Norton:

the very strength of Nonrequired Reading’s gems also suggests its Achilles heel–many of its best pieces were high-profile and easily accessible when they first came out, and its contributions from the underground bring few surprises that surfing the Web for a couple of hours couldn’t uncover. You can easily get to sites like Zoetrope, Pindeldyboz and Eyeshot if you want. And you can pick up The New York Times Magazine, Esquire or Jane at any newsstand.

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