Getting side-tracked while reading is a terrible thing.
Because it takes me forever to catch up on the books I have started. Like The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2009 - filled with great essays, graphic novellas (is that a category?), and funny lists. One of the best pieces in the volume is "Diary of a Fire Lookout" by Phillip Connors, a record of his work as a fire lookout in the Gila National Forest. Connors documents both the serenity of his forest surroundings but also the tense work when a fire is spotted; the last few entries with the little fawn are heartbreaking.
Another great inclusion, but one with a really creepy subject, is "The Chameleon", a New Yorker article by David Grann. The subject is one Frederic Bourdin, a thirty-something man infamous for impersonating teenage boys not because he has some odd sexual fetish but because he just doesn't seem to want to be himself. Bourdin even came to the US by impersonating a missing Texas teenager, an impersonation that earned him jail time and deportation when discovered.
Other great pieces:
"Wild Berry Blue" by Rivka Galchen (featured in a Teaser Tuesday post in November)
"The Temp" by Amelia Kahaney
"Triplet" by Susan Breen
"Everything I Know About My Family On My Mother's Side" by Nathan Englander
"David Foster Wallace" by Jonathan Franzen
For a hoot, check out the "Best American Craigslist Items and Offers to Barter" - insane, head-scratching, funny, and cringe-inducing all at the same time.
Next up in my "Best American" project: The Best American Short Stories 2009 edited by Alice Sebold