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This is my personal collection of The Best American Essays books. I don’t buy it every year, but most years. I take a look at the guest editor before buying. Susan Orlean! Edwidge Danticat! I’m sure a couple of other editions are missing from this shot, resting instead on a coffee table or on other bookshelves in my office.

When each book comes out in October, I spent a few weeks savoring all the essays. Over the years, I’ve used different essays as models for my own work. If you are an essayist, you need to start buying these books. You will learn more about essays from reading these outstanding examples than you will from any textbook or “how-to” writing book.

This morning I discovered that my name will appear in the back of the 2012 edition for notable essays. As someone who has been a fan of these collections for many years, I am thrilled.

The essay selected was “Bella Rostro de la Muerte,” which appeared in the Summer 2011 issue of New Delta Review. Thanks to James Claffey, who was editor at the time. I’ve never met him, but I’m guessing he has a great accent.

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