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Best New American Voices 2005 Paperback – October 4, 2004

4.6 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

"How can the written word be dead when it is being deployed with such spirit and vitality?" asks guest editor Francine Prose in her introduction to this provocative collection of 17 stories chosen from writing programs and arts organizations around the country. More realistic than experimental, the stories ricochet between themes of love and loss; the best ones give readers the feeling they're swimming across the surface of an ocean when a shiver of cold betrays the great depths that lie beneath. Frances Hwang's mournful depiction of an estranged Chinese couple stuck with a deadbeat tenant in "Garden City" is a portrait of lives consumed with regret. "The Cosmonaut" by Ian David Froeb beautifully captures the parallels between two grieving men brought together under literally cosmic circumstances. A number of the stories document cultural clashes in progress. When the exasperated Thai farmer in Rattawut Lapcharoensap's "Farangs" takes one look at the bikini-clad American tourist girl who's come to ride his elephant and asks, "What if I went to her country and rode a bald eagle in my underwear, huh?" it's clear that as the world gets smaller, the potential for conflict looms large. Other selections depict fascinating communities of Sikhs, Sri Lankans and Singaporean Chinese. If this anthology of up-and-coming writers is any indication, the prognosis for the written word is very good.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School–Short story collections are plentiful, but high school librarians would be hard pressed to find one as appealing as this one. The 17 stories chosen by guest editor Prose include some of the finest fiction coming out of universities and writing workshops today. The central characters come from a wide range of cultural and economic backgrounds. "Full-Month Celebration" is the story of Ah Fong, a Chinese amahwho is returning from Singapore to her family. Rattawut Lapcharoensap's "Farangs" revolves around the son of a Thai hotel keeper and his ambivalent relationship with a girl from the U.S. "Pine" is Hasanthika Sirisena's story of one woman's attempt to hold on to her cultural heritage as her young children are assimilated into the American traditions around them. Natalie Mudbrook, the protagonist of Eric Puchner's "Essay #3–Leda and the Swan," is so candid in her egocentric chronicling of her attempts to steal her sister's boyfriend that readers feel affection for her in spite of themselves. Each selection is a treat to be savored and an excellent choice for both reluctant readers and book lovers. Teens will also find Prose's introduction insightful and entertaining. The list of participating universities and writing workshops, as well as the profiles of the contributors, will prove useful to students who have an interest in writing.–Kim Dare, Fairfax County Public Library, VA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

  • Series: Best New American Voices
  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Harvest Books (October 4, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0156028999
  • ISBN-13: 978-0156028998
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,132,290 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I was thrilled and surprised by the diversity of voices in this book, and found myself drawn into the stories from the first to the last, grabbed by the strength of the prose and the excitement of discovering so many new writers. The stories certainly don't seem like they were written by newbies -- they're really strong and moving and wildly imaginative. The best surprise was how much humor there is (especially in "Essay #3: Leda and the Swan," probably my favorite in the book, though it'd be tough to tell for sure). I can't wait to see more from these writers in the future, and to read next year's collection from these editors.
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Format: Paperback
Overall, this collection of stories is an exciting anthology of short fiction. Many of the stories made me laugh. Many of the stories I couldn't put down until the end. Such collections always help me look for whose work to look for in coming years as they write new novels, new books,and new short story collections of their own. I especially liked the piece by Ayrn Kyle.
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Format: Paperback
I enjoyed some of the stories in this book, especially "Essay #3: Leda and the Swan" by Eric Puchner. Really, if all of the stories had been as entertaining as Puchner's I would have given this book five stars.

Puchner's offering is the imagined high school essay penned by one Natalie Mudbrook, in analyzing "Leda and the Swan" by William Butler Yeats. In writing this essay Natalie goes out on a tangent and ends up talking about her love and family life instead of the "perverted swans" described by the "mentally ill" Yeats.

Natalies's essay proves to be both hilarious and deeply moving! Her well-placed malapropisms and awkward phrasings generate such countless gems as (in reference to her chain-smoking vegan sister Jeanie) "she lived up to her slut stardom with great success but still slept with a stuffed hippopotamus on a nightly basis" and "she was a human sex appliance with no moral fibers". There are also wonderful descriptions of the boy (and front man for the small-time rock band Salacious Universe) both sisters love such as "his eyes were gleaming in a weird way from the sulfur lights like those reflector things on the pedal of a bike" or "[his] hair was partaking in photosynthesis from the moon". Other wonderful strings of words set special moods such as "It was all very peaceful and beautiful with the janitors talking in Spanish and the imported words floating on top of our heads".
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This volume contains a wide variety of short stories. I found all of them to be well written and interesting. There were some topics that I never would have chosen to read about, had they been in individual books, but this book exposed me to styles and authors that I would have missed if they had not been included in a collection.
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