In her introduction to The Best American Short Stories 2011, Brooks states, “I have always though of literature as a physical matter. A great piece of writing is the one you feel on your skin. It has to do something: Make the heart beat harder of the hairs stand up. Provoke laughter or tears.” And when the author can do that in less than 30 pages, I am amazed.
This anthology contains a varied selection of topics and authors. Some of the writer are relative new-comers, others well-known Pulitzer Prize winners. There are stories about parent-child relationships and about small towns, even a foray into a futuristic prison.
I’ve already looked in detail at a few of the stories:
- “Ceiling” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
- “Housewifely Arts” by Megan Mayhew Bergman
- “A Bridge Under Water” by Tom Bissell
I’m sure some people will like some of the stories better than others, as with any collection. Overall, though, it’s a collection worth reading. There are several stories to savor, like “The Sleep” by Caitlin Horrocks, about a town that decides to hibernate through the winter.
I don’t want to go into detail on each of the stories. Suffice it to say that each is interesting in its own right. Here’s the whole list:
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, “Ceiling” from Granta
Megan Mayhew Bergman, “Housewifely Arts” from One Story
Tom Bissell, “A Bridge Under Water” from Agni
Jennifer Egan, “Out of Body” from Tin House
Nathan Englander, “Free Fruit for Young Widows” from The New Yorker
Allegra Goodman, “La Vita Nuova” from The New Yorker
Ehud Havazelet, “Gurov in Manhattan” from TriQuarterly
Caitlin Horrocks, “The Sleep” from The Atlantic Fiction for Kindle
Bret Anthony Johnston, “Soldier of Fortune” from Glimmer Train
Claire Keegan, “Foster” from The New Yorker
Sam Lipsyte, “The Dungeon Master” from The New Yorker
Rebecca Makkai, “Peter Torrelli, Falling Apart” from Tin House
Elizabeth McCracken, “Property” from Granta
Steven Millhauser, “Phantoms” from McSweeney’s
Ricardo Nuila, “Dog Bites” from McSweeney’s
Joyce Carol Oates, “ID” from The New Yorker
Richard Powers, “To the Measures Fall” from The New Yorker
Jess Row, “The Call of Blood” from Harvard Review
George Saunders, “Escape from Spiderhead” from The New Yorker
Mark Slouka, “The Hare’s Mask” from Harper’s Magazine
I will definitely go out of my way to read more by some of these authors. Why did I wait so long to start reading short stories regularly? I didn’t realize what I was missing, how each is like a gem, some more polished than others maybe.
Category: Anthology- Short story (Multiple authors)
To be published October 4, 2011 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Book source: For review