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The Best American Short Stories 2008 Paperback – Bargain Price, October 8, 2008

3.6 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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Paperback, Bargain Price, October 8, 2008
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"Always a sure bet for gripping, emotionally challenging reading." (San Diego Union-Tribuen ) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Salman Rushdie is a contributor for the following Houghton Mifflin Company Title: The Best American Short Stories 2008

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Product Details

  • Series: Best American Short Stories
  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books (October 8, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0618788778
  • ASIN: B001TODO86
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,865,916 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I look forward to this series every year, so it was with high hopes that I opened up this year's editon and began to read. The format is the same as it has been for years, with Ms. Pitlor cherry picking stories and handing over a hundred or so vetted stories to the guest editor. I don't get too caught up in who the guest editor is in any given year - I think Ms. Pitlor does a good job in gathering a pool of quality stories, but this year I thought the overall effort was slightly below the average.

Four of the stories in the collection come from Harper's Magazine, and while I was glad to see the series move away from being so New Yorker oriented, I subscribe to Harper's, so those stories weren't new to me. To of them deserved rereading anyway - the masterful Alice Munro with "Child's Play", and Nicole Krauss, "From the Desk of Daniel Varsky."

Two of the three stories from the New Yorker were also quite well done - "Puppy", by George Saunders, and "Nawabdin Electrician" by Daniyal Mueenuddin. Others that I felt really rose above were "Buying Lenin" by Miroslav Penkov, "Man and Wife," by Katie Chase, and "Straightaway," by Mark Wisniewski.

Four of the stories in this collection would fall under what I would loosely consider 'Fabulist' stories, and those are not really my thing, although I still enjoyed "Man and Wife." Perhaps that is a trend, because I don't remember as much of that in years past.

One of the things I've always enjoyed about this series is that it collects stories I'm sure I'd never get to see otherwise, and that always makes it worth it to me. This year, I would just have to say that not all of it was as interesting to me as other years. I would still definetly recommend it to anyone who enjoys short stories.
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Format: Paperback
I've been reading this series on and off since 1992 when a friend gave me a copy of the 1991 edition. Some years I've loved it, some years not, and I think that's part of what's great about the collection - because the editors are different, when your taste aligns with them you're really in for a special treat.

As an example, I don't align with Stephen King at all. Last year's collection was difficult for me to get through. Some good writing but the overall tone was irritating.

Not so for this year. There is something about each story that is exciting. Unexpected but undeniably true events or actions or insights into human nature that to me, truly elevate the stories in this collection to qualify for "the best".

Addressing some of the other reviews -

- "Fabulist" - I'd agree, but I personally like stories that detail realities that are like ours but not quite but really, aren't most people's perceptions of reality different, and doesn't that make a good basis for a story?

- "stylistically trendy" - if stories that don't have exactly the same 1990's-style semi-detached perspective, describing somewhat depressed people making somewhat bad choices and then reacting to the results with some equivalent of "oh. OK." are trendy then alright, this is trendy. Thankfully. Joy, excitement, horror, desperation for redemption, what set these stories apart for me from that style is that the characters have arcs. Think Somerset Maugham. Or just think, because that's what a lot of these characters do.

- "approval of pedophilia" - I guess stupidity follows Mr.Rushdie around like a hungry puppy. If you're looking for all your writing to include moral condemnation then stick to Ann Coulter. There's nothing in this book that promotes pedophilia.

I hope next year's editor chooses as well.
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Format: Paperback
Bought at the airport for a Denver-Seattle trip, I found these stories ranged from fair to excellent, with plenty of very good ones. These tend toward moderately serious, with definite purpose and action, and minimal preaching, and are 20-30 pages apiece.

What else should a short-story review report to avoid any more "not useful" feedback? I like short stories, and have not come across such a good collection in my lackadaisical eclectic sampling for quite a few years. Several, including the ones about the guy on the motorcycle, the swimming girls, and the puppy adoption, remain on my mind still.

The brief biographies and authors' comments about their stories was a welcome addendum.
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Format: Paperback
Every year is a good year for short stories and the year 2008 was a good time. `Admiral' by T.C. Boyle is the name of the Strikers' Afghan. The clone of the original dog has a sitter who worked for the Strikers before going to college. Currently the pay is great and the duties are minimal.

In another story Danielle Evans describes the setting, Mount Vernon, where only the former school principal has a pool in his backyard. Erica and Jasmine are friends and Jasmine claims that Erica doesn't understand adult relationships. The girls decide to go clubbing, pretending they are at City College. Later they go with four men to the Bronx.

In Allegra Goodman's tale, her characters Orion and Molly feel both old and childish. They are still living in Cambridge following their graduation. Orion is a tinkerer, a puzzle-solver. Molly's father is an academician and believes that computer science, Orion's filed, is not a true science. Orion thinks the term intellectual property is an oxymoron. How can something intangible be owned? Orion has an eye for detail.

A.M. Homes, `May We Be Forgiven,' begins with a story of a Thanksgiving celebration. One brother dislikes his slightly younger brother. He is angry that his brother doesn't help his wife clear the table. Next the narrator is asked to pick up his brother at the police station. Soon the brother is in a padded cell and the bad events escalate. It is gripping.

Nicole Krauss writes of someone living out of a suitcase after breaking up with a friend. It is arranged that she receive Daniel Varsky's furniture. Varsky is a Chilean poet. The narrator in the future writes her novel at Daniel Varsky's desk. It seems that both the narrator and the poet love Rilke and on the day they meet they talk for hours.
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