From Publishers Weekly
Smiley, this year's editor, has drawn together an eclectic and powerful selection of stories that makes this an exemplary introduction to a consistently reliable annual anthology. The writers included here range from the well-established to the completely unknown, with a full half of the authors included yet to publish a book with a major press. Equally exciting as the discovery of a new writer can be the thrill of seeing an established writer break new ground, as happens in Don DeLillo's "The Angel Esmeralda," which involves an old nun, an abandoned young girl and an apparent miracle in the South Bronx. Making his fourth consecutive appearance in the collection, Thom Jones uses his usual cast of wired and edgy characters, along with the extraordinary comic personality of George Babbitt, a pet baboon with a fondness for Canadian Mist whiskey in "Way Down Deep in the Jungle." Among the newer writers, standouts include Avner Mandelman, whose "Pity" is a taut story about Israeli secret agents out to capture a Nazi living in Paris, and Edward Falco, the author of "The Artist," in which a man must outsmart desperate figures from his past. This is a rich and rewarding collection that provides ample confirmation of both the diversity of American life and the vitality of the contemporary short story.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
If you've been acquiring the volumes in this estimable series, don't stop now. Not that the 1995 edition is the best ever, but it's as outstanding as any of its predecessors! Of the 20 stories, those by big names (such as Jamaica Kincaid, Don DeLillo, and Ellen Gilchrist) will grab initial attention, but the lesser-known authors should be read without delay, particularly Daniel Orozco's "Orientation," a monologue by an experienced worker instructing a new employee on who's who around the office, and "Hand Jive," the first published story by Andrew Cozine, concerning the narrator's peculiar habit that developed in childhood--" my proud, beautiful, odd, horrific secret." Brad Hooper
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