The Anchor Essay Annual: The Best of 1997

For The Anchor Essay Annual: The Best of 1997, essayist-editor Phillip Lopate sought pieces that ”turn against themselves” and afford ”the pleasure a mind takes in finding its way through a dangerous thicket.” Margaret Talbot’s whipsmart analysis of Martha Stewart does this brilliantly; others are merely pleasant personal reflections (Cynthia Ozick’s exquisite ”A Drugstore Eden”); and some, like Andrei Codrescu’s insubstantial ”Intelligent Electronics,” point up the highly subjective nature of ”best of” collections. Dangerous is hardly the word for these distinctly highbrow essays, but nearly all are impressively written and a few, like Daniel Harris’ ”A Psychohistory of the Homosexual Body,” are eye-opening pieces of subcultural anthropology. B+