100 Years of the Best American Short Stories

100 Years of the Best American Short Stories

eBook - 2015
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A centennial retrospective selected by master of the form Lorrie Moore that showcases representative stories in the series as well as literary moments in time One of our most beloved short story writers, Lorrie Moore introduces and chooses from more than two thousand stories the forty-one writers collected here. From Edna Ferber to George Saunders, and everyone in between: Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Faulkner, Cheever, Munro, Lahiri, Alexie, Diaz, to name just a few. Heidi Pitlor, in turn, recounts behind-the-scenes series anecdotes and gives a decade-by-decade examination of the trends captured by the series over a hundred years. The earliest stories ushered in a new and unflinching realism, the Depression saw the reign of Southern writing, and a post-war trend toward sentimentality was upended by the likes of Philip Roth. Soon after, John Updike and Joyce Carol Oates began to probe the dark side of their era's mythic happy family. The 1980s proved to be a golden age for short stories, and in the age of the Internet and the blogosphere, the tone is relaxed and its writers diverse. Taken together, the stories tell the history of American short fiction.
Publisher: New York, New York : Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, [2015]
ISBN: 9780544056060
054405606X
Branch Call Number: EBOOK OVERDRIVE
Characteristics: 1 online resource
Additional Contributors: Pitlor, Heidi
Moore, Lorrie

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c
CoReCH4LR
Sep 13, 2017

I don't enjoy short stories as a rule, but found this book interesting in letting me sample a variety of authors, some well-known and some I'd never heard of before. I like best the Sherman Alexi story (some humor and a lot of outlook on the American Indian experience from one of their own). Philip Roth's story was a pleasant surprise as I have never enjoyed his writings and after two attempts at his earlier novels, skip over him. I found this tale a good "coming of age" take on something that may or may not have really happened. It was also interesting to read, or at least try to get into some very well-known and venerated authors and finding them not much to my liking - but at least I now have an idea of why I don't care to read certain authors.

2
2208848131
Jul 07, 2017

Look I know this took me two months to finish but I have a very good reason for that, alright? These stories are all so dense, each one like a rich, delicate cheesecake. You don't just eat 40 cheesecakes in a week, do you? No, you eat one whole cheesecake every day, like an average American. So that is what I did, I read a story each day or every other day, giving these stories time to sink in, enjoying each delicious sentence as I wandered through the history of one of America's finest publications.

***

A Goodreads review could not possibly cover the scope of these stories so I will just highlight the very best of the best. To start from the beginning, F. Scott Fitzgerald's "Babylon Revisited" is a great story about a man's love for his daughter and the alcoholism that prevents their being together. It's so good that it makes me want to revisit Fitzgerald's other works even after attempting to read that boring Gatsby book (Come at me, nerds). John Cheever's "The Enormous Radio" is a strange tale of domestic life with a supernatural twist, while James Baldwin's "Sonny's Blues" tells the story of a drug-addicted jazz pianist from his brother's perspective, and describes music more beautifully than any writing I've ever seen.

***

As this tome moved into authors of more recent years, I worked my way through absurd and poignant stories like Mona Simpson's "Lawns", about a girl trying to break off a physical relationship with her father as she makes her way through college. There were also more diverse stories of people affected by colonialism and immigration, such as in Jamaica Kincaid's "Xuela" and Jhumpa Lahiri's "The Third and Final Continent." There isn't much sci-fi or satire to speak of other than George Saunders' "The Semplica-Girls Diaries" which is an incredible story that makes you identify with people from two sides of a point of contention. But probably the best story of all, in my estimation, is "What You Pawn I will Redeem" by Sherman Alexie. No story in this volume is written more clearly, more effectively, or more humorously while relating very serious problems plaguing native American people. If you read only one story from the collection, that's the one to read.

***

There were some stories I skipped as you can only eat so many flavors of cheesecake before you find one that doesn't sit well, but even if it's not a perfect collection, it is still a great collection for its sheer coverage and scope. Reading from cover to cover provides a fascinating look at the history of the American short story, showing how our perspectives, ideals, and stories have changed so dramatically, while still remaining so essentially American. Now if you'll excuse me, I've eaten quite a bit of cheesecake and may need to regurgitate some of it onto my own paper. For isn't that what writing is at its most basic? Taking the ideas of others, digesting them, and creating your own projects from their inspiration? I don't know. The one thing I do know is that I could really go for some cheesecake.

***

More Reviews at https://www.goodreads.com/mancolepig

1
1_Great_Book
Feb 01, 2016

Nehhhhhhhh.

Very little from early years and most from 1970's to present day. Could be more balanced. There are NOT more good stories today than there were years ago. I expected the very best through all the decades. Big, chunky heavy book not conducive to reading.

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