Post 3 of 4.
It seems natural to me that an anthology like Dzanc’s Best of the Web would exist: online magazines seem to be flourishing. And they’re no longer just blog sites, but legit literary journals. Many prestigious print journals are now adding an online component in addition to their print copy, or have online archives of their older issues available online. And of course they’re those journals which are and have always been designed exclusively for the web.
The thing I like the most about BotW is that it really has a large spectrum in terms of material and authors. A kind of spectrum you would expect from an anthology which has scrubbed the entire internet for material. The Best American series (which, don’t get me wrong, is terrific) has in my opinion always been a little predictable, not only in terms of who will be anthologized or which writers will be included, but also what kind of work will be published. The pieces in Best of the Web is just a little more bold, takes a few more chances then what I think most people would expect. The spectrum of writers is great, too. They’re both the legends—such as George Saunders and Maurice Manning, who I’ve been reading for years now—and writers you’ve never heard of before, such as myself. In fact, when I first got my hands on BotW, what was more exciting than seeing my own name printed in the table of contents was seeing my name on the reverse side as Manning’s. I think the diversity is important. I’ve always liked reading the Pushcart for that same reason: it’s exciting to read a favorite, but also, to see who’s new.
Jacques Rancourt is a Michael D. Wilson research scholar at the University of Maine at Farmington and a contributor to the recently released Best of the Web 2008 anthology (Dzanc Books). He’s currently writing about a recent trek on the 100-mile stretch of the Appalachian Trail. He is one of several authors guest-blogging today in support of the Best of the Web 2008 anthology.