Top critical review
23 people found this helpful
An average vintage this year....
on November 19, 2000
Every November, I buy this anthology, several others, and two cases of beaujolais nouveau. Like the wine, the anthology is never bad, sometimes outstanding, but rarely mediocre. This year's book leans toward the mediocre, I think. Though it contains several excellent stories (Gautreaux, Gurganus, Ha Hin, ZZ Packer, and Annie Proulx), it also contains several that are closer to vignettes or character studies than actual stories, and one or two that are good stories but certainly not "the best". If this was an average vintage, I'd rank the 1997 (guest-edited by Annie Proulx) and 1999 (guest-edited by Any Tan) as the two latest outstanding vintages. In her foreward, Katrina Kenison says E.L. Doctorow was in the middle of a book tour as he read the submissions--perhaps that partly explains why the "O. Henry Awards" and "Best Short Stories from the South" collections this year, in my opinion, were better selected. Recommended, but not in the upper 33% of this anthology in the past 15 years. Then again, like wine, opinions vary--how else can you explain that the same wine store I visit has three brands of retsina?