by Dan Piepenbring - Work in Progress
Three years ago, I was browsing a used bookstore in West Saugerties, NY when I came across an anomaly from FSG’s past. It was published in 1974. It was titled, simply, The Best. And it comprised . . . a list of things that are the best.
You know, like the Best Electronic Pocket Calculator.
The Best Pepperidge Farm Cookie.
The Best Illustration of the “Convergence Theory” That Communist and Capitalist Societies Will Come Increasingly to Resemble One Another.
If you’re confused, so was I. Actually, perusing the pages of The Best never fails to leave me a little flummoxed. Compiled with affection and not inconsiderable wit by Mssrs. Peter Passell and Leonard Ross, The Best is a strange and wonderful slumgullion of the helpful, the frivolous, and the unabashedly topical. The Library of Congress files it under “Consumer education” and “Curiosities,” neither of which quite works. It’s a book that seems almost stridently out of place in 2012, and for this reason, among others, it has a cherished space on my shelf.