Customer Reviews: American Short Story Masterpieces
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on May 10, 2004
Perhaps I am biased by nostalgia since this was the text used way back in my high school creative writing class, but this sublime anthology is pound for pound the best collection of short fiction around. There are other excellent collections -- Scribner's Anthology of Contemporary Short Fiction comes to mind -- but ASS masterpieces (as we called it back then) has a splendid mix of short story classics in addition to an absurd number of gems. On the all-time classic side, there is "Sonny's Blues," "Rock Springs," "Where are you Going, Where Have you Been?", "A Good Man is Hard to Find," "The Conversion of the Jews," and "The Liar" just to name a few. It's already a terrific list; how many other collections have all these under one roof? But then there are a whole host of lesser-known stories that push this sucker over the top. "1/3, 1/3, 1/3," "A Poetics for Bullies," "The Ledge," "The Heavenly Animal" ... all first-rate stories. And it's only $8.00! Forget Best American Short Stories of the Century. Forget the Norton Anthology. If you can only have one fiction anthology on your shelf, this should be the one.
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on January 24, 2010
There are so many short story collections, many of which contain some of the same selections represented here. What sets this small paperback volume apart is that it is truly portable and can be carried in a jacket pocket when traveling or commuting. It has remarkable stories by a wide selection of American writers. My favorite is Flannery O'Conner's A Good Man Is Hard To FInd but there are many more. This is a risk free purchase if ever there was one. Eight bucks for some of the best samples of short fiction ever written.
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on May 18, 2012
I chose this anthology of short stories by default. I facilitate a literature group, and other anthologies had already been read by most of the members. It's OK and so far has provoked lively discussion. I find the editors' selections a bit perplexing, though. And I would recommend choosing a more recent anthology.
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on March 13, 2016
This may be the last anthology of stories, from the 1950-90s, with a narrative and a punch, as distinct from the self-reflective genre that has followed. Particularly memorable were: Carol Bly’s Talk of Heros about Willi, the Norwegian war hero who held up under the tender mercies of two Gestapo torturers with knee drills long enough for his colleagues in the destruction of a munitions factory to escape in a small boat to a waiting British submarine, an experience that left him a permanent drunk, shortly after the war being sent to address a Norwegian immigrants society in St. Paul; Richard Ford’s Rock Springs which chronicles the aimlessness and casual criminality of the lower class in the West; Arthur Miller’s The Misfits about men without a future chasing runty inbred wild horses out of the mountains to sell to a catfood plant for just enough to pay for a night’s drinking in Bowie; Flannery O’Connor’s A Good Man is Hard to Find about murderous backwoods weirdos in North Georgia presages James Dickey’s later Deliverance; David Quammen’s Walking Out is a rousing adventure story of a divorced mountain man taking his Chicago teenage son on a hunting trip in the Montana mountains that quickly turns into a disaster involving grizzly bears, snow and the accidental shooting of the father who is carried for 2 days the 8 staggering miles downhill (dead) by his son in blinding snow; and John Updike’s The Christian Roommates about oddly paired freshmen roommates at Harvard, one of whom an A-student that growing up on a plan to secede his father as the doctor in a small town in South Dakota and the other a D-student resisting the draft who ended up a professional agitator and opponent to authority in its various forms.
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on November 15, 2014
Anyone who loves to read great literature will love the short stories in this anthology. If you're a writer, this is a great tome to have and refer to. By reading these masters, you'll learn how to develop your craft.
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on May 21, 2003
I read "Midair" standing up in the bookstore. This book contains some true classics in short story writing.
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on April 4, 2013
This is the best collection of short stories i've ever read , you simply cannot find a bad story here. And as most readers will know, that's a very rare thing indeed, most collections have the odd clunker or three. Well, not this little beauty. Gems all the way in a superbly chosen anthology and the greatest value for money you'll come across in this day and age. Buy, and enjoy, with confidence. A classic.
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on March 10, 2016
My only real problem was that the print is very small. I also feel that some of the stories are not paragraphed sufficiently so that along with the small print, the story(ies goes on and on and do not hold my attention.
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on January 7, 2014
I'm 2/3 through this collection and often find myself riveted. Sometimes I'm forced to hold my breath in near shock as tension explodes through the words on the page. Other times I find myself marveling at a turn of phrase, a lyrical construction or a connection back to a bit of foreshadowing. I've found myself laughing out loud. Out of curiosity, I've researched each author after reading their story. Gaining a better understanding of their backgrounds and careers has enriched the experience tremendously. Getting a feeling for where the story came from makes their stories that much more powerful. I'm studying these works in order to improve my own writing skills, and I'm inspired.
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on March 17, 2013
This is a great short story collection. I'm not sure I would call it a collection of "masterpieces," but the stories are all good. Of particular interest is the story by David Quannaman, author of Spillover, and well known science writer. Who knew he tried his hand at fiction first?
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