About The Best American Nonrequired Reading Committee

Our selection committee consists of a handful of high school students. One
contingent is in the Bay Area and a second is in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
These students help Dave Eggers edit The Best American Nonrequired Reading.
Daniel Gumbiner is the book's managing editor; Henry W. Leung and Jia Tolentino
are the assistant managing editors facilitating the committee in Michigan.

This collection, published by Houghton-Mifflin, compiles the country's best
fiction, journalism, essays, comics, and humor every year, and introduces
a large readership to dozens of new writers and publications.

The Best American Nonrequired Reading committee comprising
students from dozens of different high schools meets nearly every week of the
year to read, debate, and compile this offbeat but vital anthology.

Want to say something to us? Contact the BANR committee at
nonrequired@gmail.com. We'll read everything you send us.

Meeting: 2/5/08

...a transcribed discussion of Shena McAuliffe's "Benevolence," from Conjunctions

Bora: "I like how this story pits science against religion. The plot circles around Maria; she's pronounced 'benevolence,' even though she's committed murder and doesn't feel bad about it. She's a helper-lady at the prison, and it's basically her against this minister-chaplain man. Phrenology means certain bumps on a person's head can reveal character traits, like being a criminal, but it's completely undocumented. " 

Naomi: "I really liked the subject, and I think it's interesting to talk about, science and religion. The idea of all that being in this woman's head, physically, is really cool."

Bora: "It's just a widely-written about topic. It's the way Jefferson said people institutionalized slavery. It's linked with eugenics."

Carmen: "It's that some people use eugenics to try to prove racial superiority."

Bora: "How do you measure benevolence? She has a big bump on her head, and that's supposed to mean benevolence?"

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