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The Best American Short Stories 1999 Paperback – October 29, 1999
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The 21 fictions featured in The Best American Short Stories 1999 have very little in common--but whether they're about ranchers or commuters, romantic seekers or New Age pilgrims, what they do share is a sense of urgency. In each of them, there's a kind of voice that announces its need to be heard. "I'm not a bad guy," pleads the narrator of "The Sun, the Moon, the Stars," and even though he cheats on his girlfriend, by the end of Junot Díaz's story you might be tempted to agree anyway. (Especially considering the charming way he turns Melville's Bartleby the Scrivener into a verb--as in, "A lot of the time she Bartlebys me, says, 'No, I'd rather not.'") "Real Estate," by that master of bittersweet comedy Lorrie Moore, starts by repeating "Ha! Ha! Ha!" for two solid pages but becomes a rueful take on marriage, house-hunting, and even death: "The body, hauling sadnesses, pursued the soul, hobbled after. The body was like a sweet dim dog trotting lamely toward the gate as you tried slowly to drive off, out the long driveway. Take me, take me too, barked the dog."
Other standouts in this collection include Alice Munro's "Save the Reaper," a kind of "A Good Man Is Hard to Find" where no one is killed or saved; Rick Bass's haunting evocation of winter in the north country, "The Hermit's Story"; and Tim Gautreax's "The Piano Tuner," about a manic-depressive Creole princess playing cocktail piano in a motel lounge. (This is one tale that truly does end with a bang, not a whimper.) Taken together, they are ample evidence that the American short story is alive, well, and eminently able to--in the words of guest editor Amy Tan--"help us live interesting lives." --Chloe Byrne
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Top Customer Reviews
Some years, I have found the annual anthology more appealing, and some years less so. "The Best American Short Stories, 1999" edited by Amy Tan is very entertaining and more memorable than the collections of the past few years. My acid test is this -- can I remember today the gist of a story I read last month? In other words, did it leave a lasting impression? Tan's selections are holding up pretty well. I won't soon forget 'The Hermit's Story', the first entry in her book. I discovered something very remarkable when I read it, but I can't share it because I don't want to ruin the story for you.
These anthologies reflect the taste of the guest editor, as well as the skill of the chosen writers, but why not? Katrina Kenison, the Series Editor, says there's a surfeit of great material, so why shouldn't the guest editor reflect her outlook with her selection.
I think Tan's stories show she is very interested in the 'minority' viewpoint. You might imagine this occurs because Amy Tan is a Chinese descent American, and maybe it does. However, when I use the term minority I mean interestingly idiosyncratic.
Odd and unusual people populate these stories, and odd things happen to them. Of course, if they didn't have unusual experiences we might not find the energy to finish the page.Read more ›
This volume is certainly the most diverse edition of the series so far in terms of its authors' racial and cultural backgrounds--at least a third of the stories are by non-white authors or have non-white main characters. As Amy Tan notes, however, what matters more than racial or cultural diversity is diversity of voice and experience. I found more in common, for example, between "The Piano Tuner" and "Mrs. Dutta Writes a Letter," in both stories' focus on the theme of changing one's character and learning to adapt to unfamiliar surroundings, than I did between "The Piano Tuner" and, say, Annie Proulx's more impressionistic "The Bunchgrass Edge of the World" (another story about rural Americans); or between "Mrs.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
All sorts of stories, all great reading. Some were 'better' than others, but not a single one was mediocre, let alone bad.Published 8 months ago by Dr. John T. Webb
Replacing a volume of my collection turned out to be an upgrade as Bay-city-books' "Good" condition is barely distinguishable from "New". Read morePublished on May 31, 2013 by Terry Wenner
Just replaced a lost copy for only one reason: Junot Diaz's The Sun, The Moon, The Stars is such a powerfully written story that I can quote it years later. Read morePublished on January 6, 2012 by Inmyhummelopinion
It's probably not good for the anthology that the piece I most enjoyed was Amy Tan's introduction; I thought that by itself was worth checking the book out. Read morePublished on July 30, 2004 by M. Neal
Every year I anxiously look forward to the arrival of the newest addition to my favorite book series, and every year my patience is rewarded and my appetite for a wonderful... Read morePublished on June 19, 2002
I am a big fan of the Best American Short Stories series, but this one was a huge diappointment. I like stories that have some meat; they should resonate with depth a long time... Read morePublished on February 18, 2001
I'm almost half way through this book, but won't be finishing it anytime soon. A few of the stories so far have kept my interest, but the majority seem to be overly analitical, and... Read morePublished on July 20, 2000 by Jennifer Reed
Upon reading several short stories in this book I would have to declare that the title "The Best American Short Stories 1999" is either horribly misleading or Americans... Read morePublished on April 13, 2000 by Todd Keating
I enjoyed Amy's explaination of why she picked the stories she did much more than the stories themselves. I found myself saying,"Huh?" after too many of them. Read morePublished on January 25, 2000 by lydia lewis