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The Best American Short Stories 2008 Paperback – Bargain Price, October 8, 2008
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
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.
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I read this book for school but I loved all of the short stories in this book.Published 10 months ago by Olivia Noel
We selected this book for our short story book club and it was a great choice. This both made it an affordle and easy option for our members to acquire. Read morePublished on July 8, 2013 by Marmot
This was one of the more stable collections of this series' recent history. Almost every story is at least enjoyable, all done with impeccable quality and knowledge of craft, and... Read morePublished on June 18, 2011 by Nate
If you are a fan of the short story, this is a great series, as are their essay and poetry offerings. Read morePublished on January 26, 2011 by SG
My book group, er, short story group, reads this series. We have read the series through maybe about seven years now. Read morePublished on December 4, 2009 by J. Irvine
This is the second year I have purchased this anthology, and although I was hoping that in 2008 with the superb Salman Rushdie at the helm it might have improved, sadly it hasn't. Read morePublished on November 27, 2009 by ARWoollock
I love reading these collections as they are released each year. Keep them coming! Was especially impressed with the work of Nicole Krauss.Published on October 13, 2009 by Nathan C. Damweber
As always, I recommend both the Best American and O. Henry Prize short story anthologies as being great ways to become exposed to a wide variety of different authors and top-notch... Read morePublished on April 30, 2009 by cs211
Get these best of series from your local library because the editors usually pass over the truly best of the year. Read morePublished on April 19, 2009 by Vance