- Paperback: 462 pages
- Publisher: Houghton Mifflin; 2004 ed. edition (14 Oct. 2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0618197354
- ISBN-13: 978-0618197354
- Product Dimensions: 14 x 1.4 x 21 cm
- Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (1 customer review)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,763,116 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Best American Short Stories Paperback – 14 Oct 2004
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About the Author
LORRIE MOORE is the author of the story collections Bark, Birds of America, Like Life, and Self-Help and the novels Who Will Run the Frog Hospital? and Anagrams. Her work has won honors from the Lannan Foundation and the American Academy of Arts and Letters, as well as the Irish Times International Prize for Fiction, the Rea Award for the Short Story, and the PEN/Malamud Award.
Top Customer Reviews
This is also a very good series for neophyte writers and students of literature to read. They're cost effective too. What you get are twenty varied, fascinating stories, for less than the price of many novels. Even the introductions are a good read. I highly recommend this one published in 2004, and the whole series.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program)
I will also warn that, since interpreting works of art is subjective, others will have different reactions to the stories in this volume. My interpretation of the choices that Lorrie Moore made in putting this volume together was that she erred on the side of including instantly recognizable (but therefore not terribly innovative) stories by well-known authors, as well as including lengthier selections. Although the selections are made blind, without knowledge of the author's name, the pieces by Edward P. Jones, Alice Munro, Annie Proulx, John Updike, Mary Yukari Waters and John Edgar Wideman are all very recognizable via their subject matter and writing styles. Length, meanwhile, negates two of the main attributes of a good short story: brevity and pithiness. E.B. White, who always advocated using as few words as possible to communicate an idea, would not be pleased with all of Moore's selections.
My favorite story in the 2004 volume is Thomas McGuane's "Gallatin Canyon", a true masterpiece of a short story written in the O. Henry style. Not a word is wasted, and every seemingly innocent or minor event quickly builds towards a life-or-death conclusion that exposes the nature of the main characters. It is a model for how to apply the classical short story form in the 21st century. The most innovative story is Stuart Dybek's "Breasts", which is truly (as Lorrie Moore so well characterizes) a Quentin Tarantino film transformed into short story format. However, like a Tarantino film, after all the violence has ended and the last joke has been played out, I find myself asking "yes, but what is the point?". Other notable stories, I felt, were T. Coraghessan Boyle's suspenseful modern day working-class romance "Tooth and Claw", and Edward P. Jones' "A Rich Man", which presents a view into the culture of inner-city Washington D.C. that has produced, among other things, the TV images of Mayor Marion Barry smoking a crack pipe.
My least favorite stories in this volume were Trudy Lewis's "Limestone Diner", which I felt was instantly forgettable, and, I'm sad to say, Annie Proulx's "What Kind of Furniture Would Jesus Pick?". Normally I really enjoy Ms. Proulx's work, but I felt that in this story she was just painting by the numbers, by invoking too many clichés: the Vietnam War as a conscious-raising event, the evil energy companies who are even more damaging to the environment than cattle-herding ranchers, and even a homosexual son who falls for the beefcake ranch hand.
All in all, the 2004 edition of the Best American Short Stories serves up a wide variety of different slices of present-day American life. While not the best volume in the series, it is well worth reading.
When I had recovered my breath, I challenged Lorrie Moore in no small way. I mean to say I began at the beginning of the volume with Sherman Alexie's "What You Pawn I Will Redeem". (Published in The New Yorker - crow is good with ketchup.) After the first page I realized I should have started this anthology from the beginning. "What You Pawn I Will Redeem" is a devastatingly wonderful story. And had I read it first I STILL would have had "Docent" to look forward to.
I skimmed the table on contents - Annie Proulx and John Updike? What are these two lumbering giants doing in here? (I am a student of both authors.) Updike is probably in here because he's old and they're just doing him a favor. WRONG! "The Walk with Elizanne" is not only one of the finest Updike stories I've ever read; it is one of the best STORIES I have ever read! Let none of us question the Master's work. Updike hits one way out of the ballpark with this story. Thank you Sir.
As of yet I have not read much more but the news about this volume had to be told. If it only contained these three stories (and who knows what other gems sleep within?) it would have been well worth the asking price. Buy it, read it, put it in the pile you would save if your house were on fire.
many pieces seems for literature critics only.
about 30% of them is pretty good. you can find the trace of new century. Anyway the real good novels should appeal to both general readers and critics.