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The Best American Short Stories 2009 Paperback – October 8, 2009

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Product Details

  • Series: Best American
  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books; Original edition (October 8, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0618792252
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618792252
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #96,147 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

HEIDI PITLOR is a former senior editor at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and has been the series editor for The Best American Short Stories since 2007. She is the author of The Birthdays and a forthcoming novel titled The Daylight Marriage.

Customer Reviews

They were chosen well and each has its own writing style.
Actually, while not all entertainment is artistic of course, any supposed art that has no entertainment value is just worthless pretension.
Delton T. Horn
This collection was so far the only one where I felt that every single story was really, really good.
Dr. Bojan Tunguz

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 32 people found the following review helpful By cs211 on November 16, 2009
Format: Paperback
Alice Sebold and Heidi Pitlor are to be commended for assembling an excellent collection of stories from a wide variety of different themes, styles, viewpoints, subjects, tones and genres. Often the guest editor will make a strong imprint on the collection by choosing a particular type of short story. Sebold and Pitlor appear to have taken their job very seriously this year, and have put together a volume worthy of the moniker "Best American Short Stories".

There is one story which rises far above the others, due to the writer's craftsmanship: Richard Powers' "Modulation". Powers mixes together a variety of dissimilar characters scattered around the globe and ties them all together with a science fiction storyline that conveys the power and importance of music in the present day. Powers has excellent command of the English language and keen observational skills, and it is hard to imagine how this story could be any better than it is.

Other stories that I enjoyed include:

-- "The Idiot President", by Daniel Alarcon: No, this is not a diatribe against George Bush. Rather, it is a gripping portrait of the performing arts scene in a second world country, and the struggles that actors and audience members endure for the sake of the performance. The tale-within-the-tale, or more accurately the play-within-the-story, is also engaging and features a nice plot twist and moral at the end.
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful By D. P. Birkett on April 5, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Compared with last year's compilation, edited by Stephen King, the body count is much lower. There's less disease than usual; no cancer and only one Alzheimer's disease. Not that it's very cheerful. There's not much humor and there are are no new Perelmans, or Thurbers or Woody Allens. Sebald must prefer Kafka and George Orwell. She favors stories about helpless victims of oppressive bureaucracies.Asimov's was not among the magazines surveyed.
The plots are as follows:
Guerilla theater in South America
Middle school teachers' romantic intrigues
Viet Vet trapped by Katrina
Great neglected Yiddish writer stays neglected
Prohibition era dim young things
Oppressive Chinese bureaucracy
Unappreciated Good Samaritan
Baby is Centaur
Displaced Katrina victims
Francophile mother-in-law
More oppressive Chinese bureaucracy
Oppressive Kafka-like bureaucracy
Stands up date to help kid
Elderly billionaire is childish
Catchy tune
Homeless on the range
Hilly-billy ginseng-induced crime
Seder memories
Mechanical civil warfare
White trash in Zambia
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21 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Popsicledeath on June 27, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'll warn you first that I'm reviewing early and haven't read every story in the collection. Normally, I wouldn't dare review a product if I didn't have the full range of interaction with it. But with fiction I think it's notable and appropriate to offer a review if much of it is so banal and expected that one can't muster the desire to keep reading.

I'm an aspiring writer, which I know doesn't mean jack and/or squat. It does mean I read a lot, though. I would go so far as to say I RELY on The Best American series as a sort of textbook (and thankfully it's also often entertaining on levels that range from 'amazing craft' to 'that was fun'). It's THE way to understand the contours of the contemporary short-fiction world as well as basically setting the 'you must be this good' bar for writers wanting all the fame and riches writing short fiction can offer (not much, you?).

This collection? I was eight (8!) stories in before I found one that truly engaged me and MADE me keep reading (the mark of a good story, in my opinion). It's pretty hard for me NOT to keep reading in such a collection, as I'm a firm believer that one can often learn the most from stories one may not 'like' very much. So, even when I don't 'like' a story as a reader, I still finish it as a writer, ya dig? But there a handful of stories in this anthology that were so awkwardly un-engaging I couldn't keep reading. It HURT to keep reading. The first story, for instance, is from The New Yorker (meaning it HAS to be good, right?) and reads like a senile grandparent rambling about the past, but it isn't even our grandparent telling the story, so why would the reader really care for this personal-history lesson? Oh really, grandma, the theater you say, fascinating...
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16 of 21 people found the following review helpful By P. J. Owen on January 7, 2010
Format: Paperback
A few years ago I decided I wanted to learn about the craft of short stories and figured the best way to do this was to subscribe to a number of literary journals. So I subscribed to The Paris Review, Zoetrope, Boulevard, Glimmer Train, Crazyhorse, Iowa Review, and a few others. It didn't take me long to realize though that, unless you have a job in the industry, wading through these magazines every quarter is a significant waste of time. Yes, there are some great stories in these quarterlies, but finding them can be like finding a needle in a haystack. Most of the writing is competent enough, but the truly good stories are few and far between. I even found this to be the case in the really prestigious journals, like Paris Review. So I decided to let my subscriptions lapse. Around the time I did so however, I discovered this annual anthology and decided to pick it up. Having an esteemed writer do all the wading through the muck to leave only the best stories for me to read seemed a great idea.

There are twenty stories here. If you read a lot of short stories you will have heard of some of the writers represented, such as Annie Proulx, Jill McCorkle, and Yiyun Li. But more than likely, most of these writers will be new names to you. Like any anthology, it's doubtful that you'll like every story because there are so many different styles represented. There's the stories that hit the emotional chords, like "Yurt" by Sarah Shun-Lien Bynum, `Magic Words" by Jill McCorkle, and "The Anniversary Trip" by Victoria Lancelotta. There's the historical fiction, like "One Dog Year" by Kevin Moffett and "The Peripatetic Coffin" by Ethan Rutherford. There's the recent-history fiction, like "Rubiaux Rising" by Steve De Jarnatt and "Hurricanes Anonymous" by Adam Johnson.
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The Best American Short Stories 2009
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