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The Best American Short Stories Paperback – 14 Oct 2004

5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product details

  • 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)
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Product description

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.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is one of a series to dip into if not in the mood for a novel. A good way to discover writers work you may not previously have read. Well known authors: Alice Munro, Annie Proulx, and John Updike have slots here. I became hooked on short stories many years ago. They are in every way as good as novels. These stories are gleaned by the series editor from a huge range of magazines such as, The New Yorker, Harper's, and Granta. It's an accolade for any writer, even for best selling authors, to be included in these collections. If too busy or tired to get stuck into a novel, the short story is the answer to that.

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.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program) 4.2 out of 5 stars 18 reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read... 13 Sept. 2016
By ASP - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have been reading this book, because I did an essay on Lorrie Moore, and I like her writing. so thought the BASS would be great as well, so, it's pretty good. I have an issue when writing, that I cannot get dialogue down, so this is interesting to me because of the different styles of writing dialogue.
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars 15 Dec. 2016
By Donald Sisson - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Great stories that are well written.
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Now appearing, by popular demand... 26 Nov. 2004
By cs211 - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
First, let me state that I always recommend both the "Best American" and "O. Henry" annual short story anthologies to anyone with a modicum of interest in present-day American literature. By reading these volumes, you get exposed to a wide variety of some (but by no means all) of the best stories by some of our best writers (or at least those writers who produce in the short story format). A well-written short story is an easily consumed treat that also teaches something new about the human condition. Given the time constraints of modern-day life, it's surprising that short stories are not more popular. But certainly these anthologies deserve a wide audience.

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.
18 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I am in love again 17 Oct. 2004
By Joseph E. Kyle - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I never start at the beginning of a short story anthology because I don't want to submit to somebody else's idea of what is "first" among the "best". No, I like to begin on my own terms. This year my strategy was two-fold. First I would skip past anything that had been published in The New Yorker. From there I would try and identify something roughish and experimental. I chose "Docent" strictly because it had been published in The Missouri Review. Oh, did someone open a window? Now I remember what great writing is. I could not put the volume down and long before I finished reading R.T. Smith's brilliantly refreshing story, I knew I had already received my moneys worth.

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.
1 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars a ok collection year 2 Mar. 2006
By Mary Field - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I like to read nice short novels. And this collection is claimed to be the collection of the best of a year. Still a year might be a little too short to produce many great short novels. So overall I think it is just a OK collection.

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.
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