So I was delighted when I came across American Circus, a new online magazine of reported essays and narrative criticism, created by two 2011 Dartmouth grads, Jamie Berk and Mostafa Heddaya. And even more thrilled to discover that it's good. Not "good-for-the-stage-they're-at"; just good. And sharp-toothed. Like so many young contenders, they began by taking shots at establishment hipsters. Some, like Berk's attack on their predecessor in the genre, n+1, missed the target. Others, such as Heddaya's account of the let-them-eat-cake crowd's response to Hurricane Sandy, are knockouts. Heddaya's "Down and Out in Miami Beach," a gonzo take on Art Basel simmering with clever anger, is also worth reading.
But American Circus really made a name for itself with Berk's reported essay on doping at the Kentucky Derby, "Whispers in the Shade of Roses." (Titling isn't their strong suit.) Now Berk returns to the races with "Tracks That Burn."