Synopses & Reviews
In his introduction to this volume, Stephen King writes, "Talent does more than come out; it bursts out, again and again, doing exuberant cartwheels while the band plays 'Stars and Stripes Forever'....Talent can't help itself; it roars along in fair weather or foul, not sparing the fireworks. It gets emotional. It struts its stuff. In fact, that's its job."
Wonderfully eclectic, The Best American Short Stories 2007 collects stories by writers of undeniable talent, both newcomers and favorites. These stories examine the turning points in life when we, as children or parents, lovers or friends or colleagues, must break certain rules in order to remain true to ourselves. In T. C. Boyle's heartbreaking "Balto," a thirteen-year-old girl provides devastating courtroom testimony in her father's trial. Aryn Kyle's charming story "Allegiance" shows a young girl caught between her despairing British mother and motherly American father. In "The Bris," Eileen Pollack brilliantly writes of a son struggling to fulfill his filial obligations, even when they require a breach of morality and religion. Kate Walbert's stunning "Do Something" portrays one mother's impassioned and revolutionary refusal to accept her son's death. And in Richard Russo's graceful "Horseman," an English professor comes to understand that plagiarism reveals more about a student than original work can.
New series editor Heidi Pitlor writes, "[Stephen King's] dedication, unflagging hard work, and enthusiasm for excellent writing shone through on nearly a daily basis this past year....We agreed, disagreed, and in the end very much concurred on the merit of the twenty stories chosen." The result is a vibrant assortment of stories and voices brimming with attitude, deep wisdom, and rare compassion.
"King admits in his introduction that he prefers 'all-out emotionally assaultive' stories to those that might appeal to his 'critical nose.' Yet King's selections are right at home among those of recent BASS editors Lorrie Moore, Michael Chabon and Walter Mosley: John Barth's darkly comic take on aging and mortality; a child's unforgiving view of her alcoholic parent from T.C. Boyle; an exploration of the grief of a crystal meth addict by William Gay (a writer King notes is a relatively obscure 'American talent'); Lauren Groff's piece about a polio survivor learning to swim during the 1918 Spanish flu epidemic (based loosely on real-life Olympian Ethelda Bleibtrey); Roy Kesey's imagining of an airport terminal as microcosm of global politics; and Karen Russell's halfway house for the human children of werewolves ('their condition skips a generation'). Stories drawing on horror and on Maine add a personal King touch to this year's cull of 20, taken from among the 4,000 that series editor Pitlor read last year in periodicals. The book reflects the variety of substance and style and the consistent quality that readers have come to expect from the series, now in its 30th year." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"This magnificent array should reawaken interest in the American short story." Library Journal
"[N]oteworthy are Richard Russo's 'Horseman,' an intriguing campus story that's asubtle illustration of the saying that good teachers teach themselves, and Joseph Epstein's 'My Brother Eli,' a juicy if superficial portrait of the artist (a thinly disguised Saul Bellow) as a bastard." Kirkus Reviews
"Flavor-filled, literate, and textually complex...a heady treat for lovers of short fiction." Booklist
"If you buy one book this year, [you will] ensure a little bang for your buck with this journey through the vibrant worlds of twenty authors." San Diego Union-Tribune
"A short-fiction juggernaut." Wall Street Journal
Pop-culture icon Stephen King serves as the guest editor of this popular anthology, which includes such contributors as Richard Russo, John Barth, Jim Shepard, Alice Munro, William Gay, and Mary Gordon.
Edited by the award-winning, best-selling author Geraldine Brooks, this years collection will be another "sure bet for gripping, emotional challenging reading" (San Diego Union-Tribune). With Brooks picking the best of the best, Americas oldest and best-selling story anthology is sure to satisfy this year.
About the Author
Stephen King has written more than forty books and two hundred short stories. He has won the World Fantasy Award, several Bram Stoker awards, and the O. Henry Award for his story "The Man in the Black Suit."
Heidi Pitlor is a former senior editor at Houghton Mifflin. Her fiction has been published in Ploughshares, and she is the author of the novel The Birthdays. She lives with her husband and twin son and daughter outside of Boston, Massachusetts.
Table of Contents
Foreword ix Introduction by Stephen King xiii
Louis Auchincloss. Pas Darling 1 from The Yale Review
John Barth. Toga Party 14 from Fiction
Ann Beattie. Solid Wood 41 from Boulevard
T. C. Boyle. Balto 55 from The Paris Review
Randy Devita. Riding the Doghouse 75 from West Branch
Joseph Epstein. My Brother Eli 85 from The Hudson Review
William Gay. Where Will You Go When Your Skin Cannot Contain You? 113 from Tin House
Mary Gordon. Eleanors Music 127 from Ploughshares
Lauren Groff. L. DeBard and Aliette: A Love Story 143 from The Atlantic Monthly
Beverly Jensen. Wake 166 from New England Review
Roy Kesey. Wait 194 from The Kenyon Review
Stellar Kim. Findings & Impressions 208 from The Iowa Review
Aryn Kyle. Allegiance 228 from Ploughshares
Bruce McAllister. The Boy in Zaquitos 248 from Fantasy and Science Fiction
Alice Munro. Dimension 268 from The New Yorker
Eileen Pollack. The Bris 293 from Subtropics
Karen Russell. St. Lucys Home for Girls Raised by Wolves 325 from Granta
Richard Russo. Horseman 341 from The Atlantic Monthly
Jim Shepard. Sans Farine 365 from Harpers Magazine
Kate Walbert. Do Something 388 from Ploughshares
Contributors Notes 399 100 Other Distinguished Stories of 2006 412 Editorial Addresses of American and Canadian Magazines Publishing Short Stories 416