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The Best American Short Stories 2011: The Best American Series (The Best American Series ®) Kindle Edition
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From the Inside Flap
In her introduction to The Best American Short Stories 2011, Geraldine Brooks draws the comparison between a well-told joke and a good short story. She writes, Each form relies on suggestion and economy. Characters have to be drawn in a few deft strokes. There s generally a setup, a reveal, a reversal, and a release . . . In the joke and in the short story, the beginning and end are precisely anchored tent poles, and what lies between must pull so taut it twangs.
The twenty tightly crafted stories collected here are full of deftly drawn characters, universal truths, and often, like good jokes, surprising humor. Richard Powers s To the Measures Fall is a comic meditation on the uses of literature in the course of a life. In the satirical The Sleep, Caitlin Horrocks puts her fictional prairie town to bed the inhabitants hibernate through the long winter as a form of escape while in Steve Millhauser s imagined town the citizens are visited by ghostlike apparitions in The Phantoms. Allegra Goodman s spare but beautiful La Vita Nuova finds a jilted fiancee letting her art class paint all over her wedding dress as a poignant act of release. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie wryly captures the social change in the air in Lagos, Nigeria, in her story of a wealthy young man who is not entirely at ease with what his life has become.
As Brooks pursued these richly imagined and varied landscapes she found that it was like walking into the best kind of party, where you can hole up in a corner with old friends for a while, then launch out among interesting strangers.
" --This text refers to the paperback edition.
--Booklist"Though many of the names here are familiar, this powerful new work re-establishes these authors' command of the form."
--Publishers Weekly"Another stellar selection from an anthology that has sustained high standards for 35 years..Each one of these stories could establish itself as some reader’s favorite."
--Kirkus, starred --This text refers to the paperback edition.
- File Size : 1281 KB
- Language: : English
- Print Length : 386 pages
- Publisher : Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; 2011th edition (October 4, 2011)
- Publication Date : October 4, 2011
- Word Wise : Enabled
- ASIN : B005GLXUB4
- Page Numbers Source ISBN : 0547242166
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Enhanced Typesetting : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #760,882 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Some top authors are represented, including Jennifer Egan, Rebecca Makkai, Elizabeth McCracken, Richard Powers, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and Joyce Carol Oates.
• "ID" by Joyce Carol Oates was so raw, realistic, and tragic that it felt as if it scraped my soul.
• "Foster" by Claire Keegan just took my breath away—and then I immediately bought two books of her short stories.
• "Ceiling," by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was the basis for her bestselling book "Americanah."
• "To the Measures Fall" is such a complete and ingenious story that it feels like a full novel.
If you love to read short stories, treat yourself to this. It's a gem!
Bonus: Both Geraldine Brooks's "Introduction" at the beginning of the book and the "Contributors' Notes" at the end of the book are fascinating and insightful. Do take the time to read them.
I skipped around in this short story collection and became totally absorbed in "Property," written by Elizabeth McCracken, chosen from Granta magazine. The story grabbed me from the first line, a hook that was styled as a hypothetical classified advertisement for a rental house. Perhaps I was immediately immersed in the story because I have experienced the unfortunate reality of having to accept a rental agreement for an abode that was less than sanitary.
I think that my empathy for the widower who has not come to terms with his wife's untimely death may also have played into the emotional attachment I developed for this story. Stony Badower misses his wife, Pamela Graff, the way an amputee misses a limb, or the way an aging person misses the gift of hearing or sight as those senses deteriorate. Stony realizes he is no longer the same person without the missing sensitive parts of his psyche, personality, emotional support system, all of which Pamela provided. Stony is lost, drifting, and indifferent about where or how he will live.
The house Sally rents him motivates Stony to care about his living space. The place is filthy and disorganized, harboring gaudy antiquated furniture and interior decorations. Stony begins to make the space he must live in for nine months his own, unconcerned about whose property he is displacing or defacing.
The ending brought tears to my eyes. As Sally and Stony interact in the house, she recalls her home and her space. Sally communicates subtly the hurt and loss she feels when she discovers that most of her sacred possessions, saturated with sentimental remembrances of a life she can no longer claim, have broken or crumbled from moldy neglect. Sally's marriage ended several years before Stony arrived on the scene and destroyed the few souvenirs she thought made her feeling of 'home' complete.
Stony believes that Pamela would have known about Sally's needs and understood the state the house was in when he arrived. "Pamela was the one who taught him that a bed on display is never just furniture, it is the spirit portrait of everyone who has ever slept in it, had sex in it, died in it" (209).
Stony had not understood the relationship between inanimate objects and the people attached to them. He had always traveled light, but realized that his attachment was embodied in Pamela, and that Sally's home life "was already broken" (209).
This story is a precious find, one among many in this collection, an exemplary assortment of quality short fiction.