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The Best American Short Stories 2011 Paperback – October 4, 2011
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--Booklist "Though many of the names here are familiar, this powerful new work re-establishes these authors' command of the form."
--Publishers Weekly "Another stellar selection from an anthology that has sustained high standards for 35 years..Each one of these stories could establish itself as some reader’s favorite."
From the Inside Flap
In her introduction to "The Best American Short Stories 2011," Geraldine Brooks draws the comparison between a well-told joke and a good short story. She writes, "Each form relies on suggestion and economy. Characters have to be drawn in a few deft strokes. There's generally a setup, a reveal, a reversal, and a release . . . In the joke and in the short story, the beginning and end are precisely anchored tent poles, and what lies between must pull so taut it twangs."
The twenty tightly crafted stories collected here are full of deftly drawn characters, universal truths, and often, like good jokes, surprising humor. Richard Powers's "To the Measures Fall" is a comic meditation on the uses of literature in the course of a life. In the satirical "The Sleep," Caitlin Horrocks puts her fictional prairie town to bed--the inhabitants hibernate through the long winter as a form of escape--while in Steve Millhauser's imagined town the citizens are visited by ghostlike apparitions in "The Phantoms." Allegra Goodman's spare but beautiful "La Vita Nuova" finds a jilted fiancee letting her art class paint all over her wedding dress as a poignant act of release. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie wryly captures the social change in the air in Lagos, Nigeria, in her story of a wealthy young man who is not entirely at ease with what his life has become.
As Brooks pursued these richly imagined and varied landscapes she found that "it was like walking into the best kind of party, where you can hole up in a corner with old friends for a while, then launch out among interesting strangers."
Top Customer Reviews
I admired "Foster" -- the story of an Irish girl who leaves behind "shame and secrets" when she goes to live with another family for a time -- for Claire Egan's ability to describe characters and settings with high definition clarity. Both touching and heartening, it is my favorite of the twenty.
Some of the best stories in the collection are perceptive studies of characters responding to adversity: Tom Bissell's "A Bridge Under Water" examines the lives of a newly married couple who are only starting to understand their differences during the first days of an ill-fated honeymoon in Rome. In Ehud Havazelet's "Gurov in Manhattan," a Russian immigrant, reflecting upon a two year battle with cancer followed by his girlfriend's decision to leave him (and whose dying dog is now in his care), compares his life to the characters created by Russian literary masters. The death of small town America is the subject of Caitlin Horrocks' sadly funny "The Sleep.Read more ›
As a personal rule, I never read the Intruduction by a Guest Editor until after reading the entire selection of stories. For this year's collection, I wish I had read the Introduction first. Heck, I wish I had had a chance to read the introduction before I bought the book. Ms Geraldine Brooks doesn't even care for the short story genre. She has never even written a short story, nor does she care to read them. Worse, she spends most of the Introduction trash-talking the typical American short story writer for the sameness in plots, people, and scenarios. Remember, this example of bad propriety is coming from an author who has never written a short story and yet shows no respect toward writers who have spent years fully committed to the craft and creation of the short story. I say, pass on this collection and wait for next year.
There are deaths in only ten, which is a low, score for this collection, although Tom Bissell has a church full of bones and Steven Millhauser has a town full of ghost, which raises the necro-count. Richard Powers was the only one to use the second person narration style. Seven of the stories are from the New Yorker. Here are the potted plots:
Nigeria: Outgrowing the first wife.
South Carolina: Dead mother, live parrot. PT.
Rome: Should we raise the kids Jewish?
Manhattan: Addict suicide. PT.
Israel: Homicidal Holocaust survivor.
Boston: Jilted babysitter rejects kid.
Manhattan: Cancer, lost girl friend, dying dog.
North Dakota: Town hibernates.
Corpus Christi,Texas: Fantasies of the girl next door.
Ireland: Surrogate child. PT, CPOV
Bergen County, New Jersey: Dungeons and dragons. PT, CPOV
Chicago: Gay actor's career skids.
Maine: Old house memories.
New England: Phantoms. PT.
Texas Badlands: Doctor's head injury. CPOV.
Atlantic City: Dead mother. CPOV.
Wotton-on-the-Wold: Old book. PT.
Manhattan: Korean-Jewish-Jamaican triangle, PT
Large Workroom: Designer drugs
Brno: Killing rabbits. CPOV
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This annual collection of American short stories is always a winner. It would be impossible to discover these stories on your own as they come from many and varied magazines.Published 1 month ago by dizit
I've read practically all of the Short Stories books that Amazon offers after getting hooked on the first one I purchased that was edited by Stephen King. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Marie Gerber
Any short story collection is great to have.
I'm an aspiring short-story author.
Not my typical reading material but I needed it for a literature class and I found it rather enjoyable. Read morePublished 15 months ago by Shelby Caruso