A collection organised around ‘the best’ of anything invites a particular kind of evaluation, a seeking of the criteria that such an elastic adjective might imply. The criteria employed for the selection of essays, fiction, and poetry appearing in The Best of The Lifted Brow, Volume Two seem to be grounded in a desire for intellectual cheekiness and a willingness to embrace creative transgression.
All work in the anthology originally appeared between issues fourteen and thirty-two of the magazine, and it includes several extraordinary pieces of writing. Poems by Margaret Atwood and Eileen Myles, unsurprisingly, are exquisite. ‘The Right Kind of Blood’ by Rosanna Stevens is an incisive essay on how we speak about menstruation. Adam Curley offers a dazzling analysis of River Phoenix’s performance in My Own Private Idaho. Rebecca Harkins-Cross imagines a drolly adversarial conversation between Jean-Luc Godard and Baz Luhrmann, the dialogue comprising actual quotes from the directors. It should not work, but it does.