- Series: Best New American Voices
- Paperback: 343 pages
- Publisher: Harvest; 1 edition (September 8, 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 015603431X
- ISBN-13: 978-0156034319
- Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,989,789 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Best New American Voices 2009 Paperback – September 8, 2008
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From School Library Journal
Some of the most critically acclaimed young writers today—including Joshua Ferris, Maile Meloy, Julie Orringer, and David Benioff—have had stories featured in this anthology, which publishes the best of the stories coming out of writing programs. Gaitskill, author of the National Book Award nominee Veronica, curates a powerful collection of stories concerning everything from monkeys to bowling to Dorothy Parker. Several pieces—most notably Baird Harper's "Yellowstone," Will Boast's "Weather Enough," and Lydia Peelle's "The Still Point"—deal with the aftermath of deaths, while Mehdi Tavana Okasi's "Salvation Army" handles the guilt felt by a mother who fled Iran with her two sons. Two coming-of-age stories set on foreign soil (Anastasia Kolendo's "Wintering" and Kevin A. GonzÃ¡lez's "Statehood") will especially resonate with readers. Theodore Wheeler's "Welcome Home," which chronicles a difficult transition for a veteran returning from Iraq, is sure to spawn discussion. Although some of these stories involve thorny matters, they are beautifully written by talented authors who no doubt are rising stars. Recommended for all fiction collections.—Alicia Korenman, Florida State Univ., Tallahassee
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In her introduction to the latest volume in this annual series, guest editor Gaitskill writes that, contrary to the visual medium of film, good fiction shows us artfully, with depth, precision, and complexity, the unseen, felt world: the world of the mind and heart. Fourteen writers paint the unseen in brutal and beautiful colors. In Anastasia Kolendo’s “Wintering,” young Varvara travels to a small village in the western Urals to live with her grandfather after her mother is imprisoned for killing a pedestrian after falling asleep at the wheel. In “Salvation Army,” perhaps the most devastating piece in the collection, Mehdi Tavana Okasi chronicles the parallel sufferings of Ali, a 13-year-old boy abducted from a soccer field in Iran and carried off to military martyrdom, and Heideh, an Iranian woman who flees her husband and homeland in the hopes of giving her two sons a better life. These stories not only introduce new and talented voices, they also intimate the many dark and surprisingly beautiful places of the human soul still left to uncover. --Heather Dewar
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That said, if you're a fan of short stories, I recommend it. Thanks for reading my first Amazon review and I welcome counterpoints and healthy friendly debate. Happy reading!
This is the ninth in a series of Best New American Voices, a collection of short fiction by promising young writers whose work is nominated for consideration; direct submissions are not accepted. Rather, there is a careful vetting process, the submissions read, debated and passed on to the guest editor, in this case, Mary Gaitskill. The result is the outstanding fourteen stories in the 2009 edition. In her introduction, Gaitskill sets the tone for her selections: "Great writing uses words in such a way that they evoke images, feelings, associations and ideas." Within the limits of the short story, the chosen writers offer some of their best work: "Yellowstone" by Baird Harper of The School of the Art Institute of Chicago; "The Monkey King" by Sharon May of Stanford University; "Mules" by Erin Brown of the University of Virginia; "Welcome Home" by Theodore Wheeler of the Wesleyan Writers Conference; "The Still Point" by Lydia Peelle, Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown and many more.
The topics are diverse: "In Thunderbird, Illinois, I get to thinking the world is going to end" (Lydia Peelle, "The Still Point); "This was the easy intimacy of his loveless youth that Jim missed" (Theodore Wheeler, "Welcome Home"; "There was something smug and deadened in his voice- and Isabel knew she didn't want to see the man again" (Suzanne Rivecca, "Look Ma, I'm Breathing"; "Here the boys are at the edge of everything they know" (Mehdi Tavana Okasi, "Salvation Army"). The selections are fresh and provocative, filled with the varied perspectives of these writers of short fiction, the limitless landscapes of their fertile imaginations and carefully honed prose. These bright voices are inspiring, words assembled in search of a particular vision, both satisfying and energetic. Luan Gaines/ 2008.
I've been reading Best New American Voices regularly for several years now and I've come to the conclusion that the main weakness with this series is that it is limited strictly to MFA students. This assumes of course that all of the best new American writing in short form is currently being done in university programs and that anything done outside of such programs is undeserving of consideration. The falsity of this conclusion is reflected I believe in the less than stellar quality of many, if not most, of the stories presented here. By way of an example, many of these stories rely too often on techniques that, while showcasing writing skills, do little to further the development of narrative or character, which in the end is what storytelling is really all about.
Yes, by all means read Best New American Voices, if only to get a taste of what is being done by a limited selection of new fiction writers. But also read the Sci-Fi and mystery pulps, graphic novels, etc. to get a real understanding of what is being done outside the halls of academia.