Synopses & Reviews
The Best American Short Stories
is the longest running and best-selling series of short fiction in the country. For the centennial celebration of this beloved annual series, master of the form Lorrie Moore selects forty stories from the more than two thousand that were published in previous editions. Series editor Heidi Pitlor recounts behind-the-scenes anecdotes and examines, decade by decade, the trends captured over a hundred years. Together, the stories and commentary offer an extraordinary guided tour through a century of literature with what Moore calls “all its wildnesses of character and voice.”
These forty stories represent their eras but also stand the test of time. Here is Ernest Hemingway’s first published story and a classic by William Faulkner, who admitted in his biographical note that he began to write “as an aid to love-making.” Nancy Hale’s story describes far-reaching echoes of the Holocaust; Tillie Olsen’s story expresses the desperation of a single mother; James Baldwin depicts the bonds of brotherhood and music. Here is Raymond Carver’s “minimalism,” a term he disliked, and Grace Paley’s “secular Yiddishkeit.” Here are the varied styles of Donald Barthelme, Charles Baxter, and Jamaica Kincaid. From Junot Díaz to Mary Gaitskill, from ZZ Packer to Sherman Alexie, these writers and stories explore the different things it means to be American.
Moore writes that the process of assembling these stories allowed her to look “thrillingly not just at literary history but at actual history — the cries and chatterings, silences and descriptions of a nation in flux.” 100 Years of The Best American Short Stories is an invaluable testament, a retrospective of our country’s ever-changing but continually compelling literary artistry.
LORRIE MOORE, after many years as a professor of creative writing at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, is now the Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Professor of English at Vanderbilt University. Moore has received honors for her work, among them the Irish Times International Fiction Prize and a Lannan Foundation fellowship, as well as the PEN/Malamud Award and the Rea Award for her achievement in the short story. Her most recent novel, A Gate at the Stairs, was short-listed for the 2010 Orange Prize for Fiction and for the PEN/Faulkner Award, and her most recent story collection, Bark, was short-listed for the Story Prize and the Frank O’Connor Award.
HEIDI PITLOR is a former senior editor at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and has been the series editor of The Best American Short Stories since 2007. She is the author of the novels The Birthdays and The Daylight Marriage.
"[A] fascinating, consistently compelling, and superbly edited collection of short stories about romantic love....An essential acquisition." Library Journal
"My Mistress's Sparrow is Dead
...is being published to coincide with Valentine's Day. But this is far from a collection of Hallmark card sentiments in woozy prose. Just look at the cover: an anatomically detailed painting of a human heart, all blood vessels and muscle....There's a lot of yearning and regret in these pages, and heartache, of one kind or another, tends to be the prominent emotion. Better not to think about this when you're just starting out." Michael Dirda, Washington Post Book World
(read the entire Washington Post Book World review
"When it comes to love, there are a million theories to explain it. But when it comes to love stories, things are simpler. A love story can never be about full possession. Love stories depend on disappointment, on unequal births and feuding families, on matrimonial boredom and at least one cold heart. Love stories, nearly without exception, give love a bad name....
It is perhaps only in reading a love story (or in writing one) that we can simultaneously partake of the ecstasy and agony of being in love without paying a crippling emotional price. I offer this book, then, as a cure for lovesickness and an antidote to adultery. Read these love stories in the safety of your single bed. Let everybody else suffer." Jeffrey Eugenides, from the introduction to My Mistress's Sparrow Is Dead
All proceeds from My Mistress's Sparrow is Dead will go directly to fund the free youth writing programs offered by 826 Chicago. 826 Chicago is part of the network of seven writing centers across the United States affiliated with 826 National, a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting students ages 6 to 18 with their creative and expository writing skills, and to helping teachers inspire their students to write.
For the 100th anniversary of The Best American Short Stories series, a retrospective of stories selected by master of the form Lorrie Moore. The stories, along with one hundred years of behind-the-scenes anecdotes and decade-by-decade analysis, tell the history of American short fiction, showcasing representative moments in the series as well as literary moments in time.
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.
About the Author
Jeffrey Eugenides was born in Detroit and attended Brown and Stanford Universities. His first novel, The Virgin Suicides, was published to great acclaim in 1993 and was made into a film directed by Sofia Coppola. His second novel, Middlesex, won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award.