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You've Got to Read This: Contemporary American Writers Introduce Stories that Held Them in Awe Paperback – September 17, 1994

4.3 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Thirty-five well-known authors introduce their favorite stories in this treasure trove of short fiction. For the reader this is a double delight. The introductions clarify the stories and provide rare insights into the minds of writers and the ways in which they read literature. Many of the stories are classics like "A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens and "The Dead" by James Joyce. Others are not as famous: Edward P. Jones introduces "The Flowers," Alice Walker's story encompassing both the loss of childhood and the oppression of a race. Amy Tan tells the reader why "Pie Dance" by Molly Giles is a perfectly crafted story. For Francine Prose, Isaac Babel has created a masterpiece of art in "Guy de Maupassant," while T. Coraghessan Boyle's favorite story is Donald Barthelme's "The School." A list of biographies of the authors completes the volume. Recommended for general collections.
Stephanie Furtsch, Purchase Free Lib., N.Y.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Writers are passionate readers because literature is an ongoing dialogue. And you can learn a lot about writers by knowing what they love to read. Editors Hansen and Shepard decided to ask some of their favorite American writers to identify stories that fell into their you've-got-to-read-this category. The end result is an anthology of terrific tales introduced by essays that open windows onto the creative process of 35 top fiction writers. Each story is introduced by the writer who was inspired, intimidated, or moved to extreme emotion on reading it. Here's some examples: John Irving chose "A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens; Mary Gordon selected "The Dead" by James Joyce; Oscar Hijuelos acknowledged his debt to Jorge Luis Borges' "The Aleph"; Lorrie Moore was stunned by John Updike's "Packed Dirt, Churchgoing, a Dying Cat, a Traded Car"; Joyce Carol Oates picked Kafka's unforgettable "In the Penal Colony"; and Louise Erdrich couldn't get over Robert Stone's "Helping." This is almost a two-for-one deal for story-lovers: a glimpse into the reading minds of one set of popular and talented authors, together with a selection of outstanding stories by their mentors and peers. Donna Seaman --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 640 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; Paperback Original edition (September 17, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060982020
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060982027
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.1 x 1.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #87,339 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I read this in a writing seminar class I took with the author Wally Lamb (She's Come Undone, I Know This Much is True)at University of Connecticut three years ago. It impacted my appreciation for short stories and led me on the path to read many of the authors represented in this book. I bought complete short story collections of several of my favorite authors represented. I loved the idea of reading about other author's feelings about the stories and how they were influenced in their own writing. If you have an interest in writing, this book gives invaluable insight. I am purchasing it for my brother-in-law who is currently taking a creative writing course. My favorite story was "A Paper Garden" it captured my imagination and delighted me with description of the main character and her charm. Enjoy!
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Format: Paperback
A beautiful concept, having writers expose us to other writers. There are some jewels in here, if you've already read some of them, be proud of yourself, if not, the sheer randomness may turn you on to something you haven't been turned on to before. I loved "The Star Cafe", and discovered a new writer in the process.
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By A Customer on May 19, 2004
Format: Paperback
Architects and contractors can usually spot a good house; engineers and mechanics know good cars. So too with stories. Want to read some good ones? Ask the people that create them. This concept makes sense to me and I don't think you'll be disappointed. I did not like all the stories in this collection, but I think 90% are striking. Many are memorable. A few seem so original in conception they form a palpable presence in the mind.
Of the 35 stories, I was familiar with 21 of the authors, though I had previously read only a couple of the stories. Of the selectors/introducers, I had only heard of a dozen.
Dead white males do not seem to dominate this volume. If anything, there are a few too many chick stories that have no action beyond moving lips and go on interminably about feelings and relationships. Thankfully, the polar opposites are not represented here. (Those would be pure action stories peopled by brainless, unreflective stick men.) Happily, there are quite a few tales by the best who can strike a balance. Leo Tolstoy did this better than anybody and he does have an entry.
I will not further bore you with my favorites. Everybody takes up stories in their own way. Interestingly, I remember almost none of the introducers praise or criticism. But, collectively they pulled it off- this is a great anthology.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I found this book very entertaining. None of the works that my professor assigned us to read were boring, infact they actually made me want to read more; which says a lot considering I am a very picky reader.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This was a textbook for an online course I took from UCLA on writing fiction. I can highly recommend it. The selection of stories offers great variety, ranging from Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" to O'Brien's Vietnam-era classic "The Things They Carried". Having the stories introduced by authors offers is interesting. I enjoyed comparing my own reaction to each story to that of the author introducing it. Check this one out for a great collection of short stories.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I used this book for an assignment for the Belvedere-Tiburon Great Books Discussion Group. I was able to add much more to the lively discussion and our leader was quite interested. Only one of the stories was discussed but YOU'VE GOT TO READ THIS prompted interest with the other members as well.
Doris Barbara Imrie
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Some of the stories are famulous, some are simply okay. My favorite for many was the introduction by fellow writers. It's interesting to compare you reaction to a story with another writer's. I would recommend this book.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The majority of the stories were OK; didn't grab me. Two or three of them were memorable. Typical of a collection of short stories.
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